”Don’t Drag Me Into Our Relationship!”

An article by
Julia Skott, journalist and writer
Unmarried Couples: A Comedy That Will Break You Up

Notwithstanding Suzanne Reuter’s exclamation in Yrrol – en kolossalt genomtänkt film (Peter Dalle, 1994), Swedish cinema is full of love and relationships. It is difficult not to get emotionally involved, even as a member of the audience.

It is an indisputable fact that love shows up in close to one hundred per cent of all the stories we see on film. That might not be so surprising if you subscribe to the poetic view that it is somehow the meaning of life, or the prosaic one that it is a support system for the biological need to procreate. Maybe the proportions of love in cinema are slightly different in Sweden, since we produce so many crime thrillers with older cops whose main romantic activity is getting a call from an aggrieved ex-wife. But our younger, hunkier actors do tend to manage an entanglement or two.

Whether it be an action movie or a thriller, or maybe even a ghost story, there will be someone to try to win, win back, or lose. It’s like you can’t roll credits after having saved the life of the Prime Minister without having also included a really torrid embrace and kiss. Or your dream partner falling off a cliff – or moving to Sundsvall, depending on genre.

Although us Swedes are famous for ”Swedish Sin”, we may have just as many issues with Swedish Love. We are both pragmatic and dramatic, a quiet people who thaw out around Midsummer, and maybe we don’t quite know how to approach stories of love. Do we want to be intellectually reserved? Or fervently passionate? Therefore, our romantic comedies tend to be rather dark – Mamma pappa barn (Kjell-Åke Andersson, 2003) was promoted as a comedy, but actually contains a violent accident with a small child – and our romantic dramas sometimes require a sedative before the lights go down in the movie theatre. (I’m just going to say Bergman, and leave it at that.)

It’s difficult to pick and choose from the love-packed Swedish film oeuvre. Both because it is overflowing, and because it’s difficult to decide what actually qualifies. The film tips below all represent a tradition, but stand out because of their superior execution.

The Components of Love

(Note: The sum is greater than 100%, since love is neither logical nor quantifiable.)

Unnecessary misunderstandings 43%
Blood leaving the brain for other destinations 29%
Longing gazes 17%
A friend trying to help out 8%
Violins 7%

Pounding Hearts on the Silver Screen