Lou mostly keeps to herself, grandmother Frida grieves for her husband’s death, Tom isn’t good at anything, and Henrik always finds the right book in his second-hand bookshop.
My first foray into the 2014 Edinburgh Film Festival, came over a week into it (blame FIFA) and the Swedish comedy/drama ‘Hemma’ starring Moa Gammel and Lia Boysen (me neither). It’s the debut film from writer and director Maximilian Hunt and is set in a remote village in rural Sweden as granddaughter Lou (Gammel) discovers her long-lost grandfather has died and goes to attend his funeral, winding up staying in the village to keep her grandmother Christine (Boysen) company.
I chose this film from the listings at the festival as I have a hankering for Scandi drama after season 2 of The Bridge finished. What I did not expect was to see a lead character almost identical to The Bridge’s Saga Noren. Both appear to have Asperger’s Syndrome, both struggle to communicate with family, both have no friends, they even look strikingly similar. The humour that stems from a character with Asperger’s constantly telling honest truths has been done, and done better, in The Bridge, but thankfully only half the film is devoted to Lou.
The blossoming relationship between Lou and local pianist Henrik is clearly the film’s primary focus, however much more interesting is the peculiar relationship between Christine and a 10 year old boy Tom she strikes a friendship with at her husband’s funeral, played deadpan by Erik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is the stand-out in this film, as he and Christine struggle to find what Tom’s talent is, as he struggles at school. Slowly the audience realises that both characters are using each other as replacements – Tom is helping Christine overcome loneliness at the loss of her husband, Christine is helping Tom with his lack of talent and struggles with bullying. Their companionship is truly heart-warming and heartbreaking and is the best thing about this movie.
Overall, an excellent debut – even the 8 year old sat behind me was quiet throughout (who takes an 8 year old to a subtitled Swedish drama!?). Great performances and subtle directing. Maximilian Hunt is certainly one to watch.
Review by Richard Mason
Directed By: Maximilian Hult
Starring: Moa Gammel, Lia Boysen, Anita Wall, Erik Lundqvist and Simon J. Berger