Produced by Malte Wadman, Elin Erichsen. Directed by Maria Sodahl. Screenplay , Ole Meldgaard, Sodahl. That former Euro staple, the portmanteau movie, gets a ’90s hosedown with “Love & Hate: European Stories,” five yarns from smaller territories that’s an ideal smorgasbord for fests. Though light on comedy, and tilted by the Danish lead producer toward Scandi offerings, the menu is varied enough to maintain interest. Specialized small-screen sales look likely.
Quintet kicks off with Norwegian first-timer Maria Sodahl’s “Sara,”the most immaculately lensed but artily oblique of the group. Setting is a funeral for the local clockmaker in a small, snow-covered community; his daughter, Sara, arrives late from the big city, much to the consternation of her more conservative sister. On the way, Sara meets a young boy who disrupts the burial, locking himself in the hearse until he’s allowed to fondle Sara’s breasts. At the end, the sisters reach a vague rapprochement.
Polish entry, “Steps,” is a more loosely directed but straightforward allegory on art vs. mammon in the new Central Europe. A beautiful ballerina is seemingly content to sacrifice her talent doing sexy nightclub numbers for her rich b.f., ignoring her choreographer’s insistence that she can do better.
From the former Yugoslavia-Serbia comes “Pigs and Pearls,” a neat yarn of coin-based betrayal that’s on the button with its portrait of casual violence. A young night watchman is enticed by a couple into a grave-robbing expedition, finally running off with the woman, who subsequently double-crosses him as well. Belgrade-born Dragan Nikolic directs with a rough earthiness, in which emotions are more to the fore than elsewhere in the collection.
Euro-based Iranian Amir Rezazadeh, who helmed the offbeat Danish comedy “Two on a Couch,” comes up with the very different “The Letter,” a romantic sliver set in a lakeside villa about a lonely wife who conjures up a handsome young stranger in her rich husband’s absence. Seg is a nice change of pace in the scheme of things, but the wispiest of the five.
Most perfectly realized of the bunch, and showcasing two fine Swedish talents , is the offbeat closer, “Open Doors,” by Buenos Aires-born Marcelo Racana. Harriet Andersson and Sven Lindberg star as two middle-aged singles in an anonymous block whose lives suddenly become open books when the doors to their apartments are removed for refitting. Gradually the pair strike up a wary friendship, but there’s a twist in the tale’s tail that explains their real common attraction.
Technical credits throughout are up to scratch, befitting a project whose “supporting committee” includes names like Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Jean-Claude Carriere and David Puttnam.