Starring: Maria Lundqvist, Leif Edlund
Friday 29 October 2010
Conversation framed at odd angles is the dominant stylistic tic of Swede Ruben Ostlund's award-winning debut feature, a suite of quirky, semi-improvised vignettes on the theme of peer pressure.
Some of it involves horseplay that gets out of hand – a gang of male friends overstep the sexual boundary, two narcissistic teenage blondes party a bit too hard – but the most interesting scenarios involve a moral dilemma. A young teacher who has conducted a classroom experiment on the herd mentality suddenly finds herself ostracised when she takes a stand against a fellow teacher's strong-arm discipline. An actress on a coach trip squirms with discomfort as an irate driver holds his passengers to ransom until the person who broke the toilet's curtain rail owns up to the damage: just from Ostlund's clever composition we can tell who's the culprit. The motif of the individual against the crowd recurs insistently, unsettlingly and sometimes hilariously, as characters agonise over the right thing to do. Ostlund may be Sweden's answer to Todd Solondz, though that is a mantle a young film-maker should be wary of trying on.
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