Review: ‘Love & Hate European Stories’

SARA

SARA

(NORWEGIAN)

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.

Love & Hate European Stories

(DANISH)

Production

A Such Much Movies production, in association with the Danish Film Institute, DR/TV1, National Centre for Screen Studies (Norway), Polish Film Institute, Polish TV, Swedish Film Institute, Swedish TV-1, with participation of Nordic Film & TV Fund and European Script Fund. (International sales: Peter Norgaard Films, Denmark.) Produced by Peter Norgaard. Sound (Dolby SR Digital), Per Meinertsen, Christian Lund. Reviewed on videocassette at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 27, 1995. (Also in Edinburgh, Montreal festivals.) Total running time: 91 MIN.

Crew

Camera (color), Erik Poppe; editor, Pal Gengenbach; music, Iver & Audun Kleive; production design, Kalli Juliusson; sound recordist, Erik Ryr. Running time: 15 MIN.

With

Sara ... Anna Krigsvold Hanne ... Anneke von der Lippe Leif ... Stian Brenna STEPS (POLISH) Produced by Krzysztof Zanussi, Ryszard Straszewski. Directed, written by Olaf Olszewski. Camera (color), Edward Klosinski; editor, Peter Englesson; music, Irene Becker, Pierre Dorge; production design, Rafal Waltenberg; costume design, Teresa Wardzala; sound recordist, Nikodem Wolk-Laniewski. Running time: 14 MIN. Marzena ... Beata Augustyniak Jerzy ... Jerzy Leszczynski Krzysztof ... Tadeusz Lempkowski PIGS AND PEARLS (FORMER YUGOSLAVIA- SERBIAN) Produced by Krzysztof Zanussi, Ryszard Straszewski. Directed, written by Dragan Nikolic. Camera (color), Radoslav Vladic; editor, Peter Englesson; music, Irene Becker, Pierre Dorge; art direction, Rafal Waltenberg; sound recordist, Nikodem Wolk-Laniewski. Running time: 18 MIN. Marko ... Dragan Bjelogrlic Marija ... Vladica Milosavljevic Paja ... Dragan Nikolic Steva ... Tanasije Uzunovic THE LETTER (DANISH) Produced by Peter Norgaard. Directed by Amir Rezazadeh. Screenplay, Gert Duve Skovlund, Rezazadeh, from a short story by Niels Hav. Camera (color), Anthony Dod Mantle; editor, Peter Englesson; music, Irene Becker, Pierre Dorge; production design, Lasse Bjornvad; sound recordist, Henrik Langkilde. Running time: 20 MIN. Vera ... Benedikte Hansen John ... Jesper Langberg The Stranger ... Qoumarce Hossini OPEN DOORS (OPPNA DORRAR) (SWEDISH) Produced by Anders Granstrom. Directed by Marcelo Racana. Screenplay, Mats-Olof Olsson, from an idea by Racana. Camera (color), Hans Welin; editor, Lasse Lundberg; music, none; production design, Niklas Ejve; costume design/makeup, Maria Strid; sound, Anders Larsson, Olle Unnerstad, Richard Lothner. Running time: 21 MIN. Verner ... Sven Lindberg Gina ... Harriet Andersson
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