Malmö, Sweden during the Second World War. Stig is a 15 year old pupil on the verge of adulthood. Viola is 37 years old and his teacher. He is attracted by her beauty and maturity. She is drawn to him by his youth and innocence, a god-sent relief from her drunk and miserable husband. They start a passionate and forbidden relationship – but it has consequences they never could have expected.
This was to be director Widerberg’s last movie. A sweet family farewell, since his son played the lead in it. What his last words may be, as expressed in this movie, though, is hard to say. There is no clear moral in it, for which I am thankful, but a somewhat distressing observation about love: it is a close neighbor to hate, and it will not leave without vengeance.
The love affair between the school teacher and the teenage student is interesting when it starts to break up, but its beginning is too swiftly dealt with to make any sense, and its joyous, lustful phase is without depth. Only when things go awry, does the story get interesting, and the actors get to excel in their art.
The title is from a psalm, which is traditionally sung by students when they leave school for the summer break – or for good. It’s a hymn to the summer and its luscious splendor – therefore, a lust of another kind, than the carnal one the movie deals with. Some Widerberg irony, no doubt.
Using his son as the student in the movie, was not that good an idea, although Johan Widerberg has a rare charisma on screen, and his own odd talent in acting. His father seems not to have been able to treat his son with the same merciless exploitation, as he was quite apt to do with other actors. So, the student is left hanging in a kind of vacuum, as if empty of his own intentions and conflicts. Things happen to him, as if he had nothing to do with them.
In this type of drama, it is important that the characters are stripped naked – well, mainly their souls, but bodies too, if need be. Widerberg manages the latter with his son, briefly, but not at all the former. When wanting to protect his son, he actually abandons him – for no other reason than the inhibitions in his own fatherhood. Johan, on the other hand, seems to be prepared to do any sacrifice necessary, to make the movie work.
I could be wrong. But the impression remains: the student’s story never really gets to be told, because he is not allowed to be present, completely.
Director: Bo Widerberg
Writer: Bo Widerberg
Stars: Johan Widerberg, Marika Lagercrantz, Tomas von Brömssen
Country: Denmark | Sweden
Language: Swedish | English | German
Release Date: 8 March 1996 (USA)
Filming Locations: Malmö, Skåne län, Sweden
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 4
File size : 4.16 GiB
Duration : 2 h 9 min
Overall bit rate mode : Variable
Overall bit rate : 4 602 kb/s