The fourth of Richard Hobert’s films based on the seven deadly sins, “Run for Your Life” is his best so far, a dark and hard-hitting look at racism and hostility against foreigners in contempo Sweden. Pic’s fast pacing and well-told story, combined with excellent acting, should guarantee it a life beyond Swedish borders.
Of the three previous films, two — “The Spring of Joy” and “Autumn in Paradise” — were comedies, and one — “The Hands” — was a thriller, and all sometimes seemed too much like telepics. But with “Run for Your Life,” Hobert becomes a full-fledged filmmaker, as if the subject matter has inspired him to try for a broader scope than in previous projects. He has generally succeeded, even if the film feels a bit overlong.
Tale starts with the lead couple from “Autumn in Paradise,” Catti and Mick, in hospital. It is Christmas and she has just given birth to their first kid. In the same room is another couple, of whom the woman, Maria, is a foreigner, with a newborn child. Suddenly, policemen enter the room, and Catti hears the words “terrorist” and “expulsion.” With the aid of nurse Ingrid, Maria jumps through the window and runs away. The man, Erik, is arrested.
Shocked by what has happened, Catti and Mick get ready to leave the hospital, and discover Maria has left her child behind. Against Mick’s wishes, Catti takes the baby home. Later, Ingrid contacts them, and they gradually learn the truth: Maria’s husband, Stefan, is hiding from the police, and Erik and Ingrid are part of an underground movement trying to help refugees from war-torn countries whom the authorities want to deport.
But the police are onto them, and suddenly Mick and Catti are also forced to go on the run. Separated, they discover a Sweden they never knew existed, including a frightening group, Sweden for the Swedes, that forces Mick to take part in a rape as punishment for having “betrayed his country.”
It would have been easy to turn the cops into the villains, but in Hobert’s treatment they also emerge as victims. The real bad guys are to be found higher up, in a government that doesn’t know how to spell the word “humanity.”
Thesps are good, particularly Goran Stangertz, who, as Mick, gives an outstanding performance, his best since his breakthrough in the mid-’70s.
Made entirely on location, film makes excellent use of the landscape in southern Sweden, with the darkness of the winter giving pic an ominous look. Hobert also uses Christmas motifs — cheery songs, trees, presents — as a neat contrast to the escalating despair of the refugees. Tech credits are all tops.