Sunday, April 03, 2011

Movie of
the Month:
Part 27

I recently
the follow-
ing DVD for
Video Lib-
, and thought the results were worth sharing.

THE GIRL [***1/2]
(Fredrik Edfeldt, Sweden, 2009, 95 mins.)

An unnamed Swedish nine-year-old (the remarkable Blanca Engström) gets left behind for the summer when her aid-worker parents travel to Africa in 1981. They want to bring her with them, but the agency deems her too young, so they entrust the girl to her aunt, Anna (Tova Magnusson-Norling), a single woman who doesn't appear to have much experience with children.

For the next few days, the slight redhead attends a swimming school, while Anna drinks, smokes, plays records, and throws raucous parties. The girl and her friend Ola (Vidar Fors), a shy farmer's son, find Anna's antics amusing, but then she goes off on an extended holiday with an old boyfriend, leaving the kid to fend for herself--a development our heroine actually sets into motion.

The girl lies to Ola and to her hard-drinking neighbor, Gunnar
(Leif Andrée), about Anna’s whereabouts, giving her license to
do whatever she wants, like pursuing a fleeting friendship with
Gunnar's boy-crazy teenage daughter, Tina (Emma Wigfelt),
and her more sophisticated friend, Gisela (Michelle Vistam),
who like to pretend they're the female members of ABBA.

The girl, who spends more time watching than speaking, doesn't
know how to cook, but she attempts to keep the house clean (and
to raise a tadpole). Mostly, she observes the teens and the adults
around her behaving more badly than the kids. The story is ab-
sorbing enough as it tracks her movements, but then something
happens, which isn't her fault, though she's present at the time.

Afterward, she isolates even more, almost as if she were go-
ing through a sort of premature mid-life crisis. Even so, Fred-
rik Edfeldt's film is hardly depressing, even if tragedy lurks a-
round every corner. Shot with care by Hoyte Van Hoytema
(Let the Right One In), it offers the same suspenseful ap-
peal as Hirokazu Kore-Eda's No One Knows, which also
featured children left on their own. Recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part
26: Fish Tank - The Criterion Collection

Endnote: Slightly revised from the origin-
al text. Film still from Time Out New York.

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