Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Venice Review: 'Blondie' A Promising Swedish Family Drama That Gets Less Interesting As It Goes On

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 3, 2012 at 6:15PM

For millennia now, the idea of three sisters has been a potent one in myth and literature. From the Fates of Greek legend to the witches in “Macbeth” to Olya, Masha and Marina in Chekov’s play, the theme recurs across civilizations, with mountain ranges and rivers named some variation on ‘three sisters’ the world over.
1
Blondie

For millennia now, the idea of three sisters has been a potent one in myth and literature. From the Fates of Greek legend to the witches in “Macbeth” to Olya, Masha and Marina in Chekov’s play, the theme recurs across civilizations, with mountain ranges and rivers named after some variation on "three sisters" the world over.

And it’s this archetype that director Jesper Ganslandt (“The Ape”) looks to tap into for his new film, “Blondie.” A stylish and well-performed family drama described as a “deconstruction” of a genre that, in Sweden at least, Ingmar Bergman made his own, the film starts promisingly, before lapsing into convention and ultimately failing to really dig into the characters that it set up.

Blondie

Three Swedish sisters are all returning to their mother’s home in the countryside. The eldest, Elin (Carolina Gynning) is a coke-addled model in Paris, who has a difficult relationship with the matriarch. The middle child, Katarina (Helena Af Sandeberg), who was always the responsible one, is married with two young children, but increasingly unhappy in her union, is cheating on her drunken husband (Olle Sarri) with a younger colleague. And the youngest, fragile Lova (the adorable Alexandra Dahlström, who starred in Lukas Moodysson’s “Fucking Amal”/”Show Me Love” fourteen years ago) is a student in London, nervous about her return home.

Their mother Sigrid (Marie Göranzon) welcomes them warmly, despite being quite happy living at home with her many dogs. But as preparations get underway for her 70th birthday, tempers start to fray, and old resentments between the sisters, and their mother, begin to bubble up.

Blondie

From the off, it feels like “Blondie” (the title refers specifically to Elin, though all four protagonists are blonde) could be something special. A pretty credit sequence of what seems like stars in the night sky, appearing and disappearing, segues into a bravura shot of a long track into a box, tiny against a black backdrop, which turns out to be a photo studio in which Elin is doing a shoot. Indeed, across the opening minutes, there’s a stylish zip to proceedings that’s reminiscent somehow of a slightly lower key Nicolas Winding Refn.

In fact, things stay promising across that first act (the film is consciously and theatrically divided into acts, complete with separate title cards). The family home is a stunning piece of production design, which really shines thanks to Linda Wassberg’s picture-perfect photography. And as the build up to the party takes place, there’s a darkly funny edge to the proceedings that makes it feel as though something truly subversive and twisted is brewing.

Blondie

Sadly, things go somewhat downhill from there. Elin and Katarina have already been neatly sketched out by the start of the second act, but for the most part, their mother and younger sister remain fairly enigmatic. And sadly, neither Sigrid or Lova, despite being equally intriguing characters, get much more time in the second half of the film. Indeed, Elin and Katarina somewhat stall as characters too around the halfway point – a shame, given that the actresses are all giving strong performances.

This is all because of a plot development that manages to file the edges off the picture, and turn it into something closer to “The Family Stone” than, say, “Festen.” The performances remain strong, the visuals equally so, but all of the subversive air goes out of the film, and that distinctly weirder first act (as well as Fredrik Emilson’s overly sinister score) means that the emotional punches don’t really land either.

Maybe it’s all part of the director’s deconstruction, but if that’s the case, it’s not a particularly interesting one. We were genuinely enthused by the opening of “Blondie,” enough so that we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on Ganslandt’s work from here on out. Hopefully next time, he’ll be able to carry the film across the finish line – or indeed, past the first bend. [C]  

This article is related to: Review, Venice Film Festival, Blondie


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates