Review: ‘The Guitar Mongoloid’

One of the quirkiest Swedish films of recent memory, "The Guitar Mongoloid" has all the makings of a cult classic. Shot on a shoestring over several years, pic defies traditional norms of storytelling, making it a distant cousin to the films of iconoclast Roy Andersson ("Songs From the Second Floor"). A dark, but also humorous, depiction of a society with lonely people and sudden outbursts of violence, pic is ideal fest fare.

One of the quirkiest Swedish films of recent memory, “The Guitar Mongoloid” has all the makings of a cult classic. Shot on a shoestring over several years, pic defies traditional norms of storytelling, making it a distant cousin to the films of iconoclast Roy Andersson (“Songs From the Second Floor”). A dark, but also humorous, depiction of a society with lonely people and sudden outbursts of violence, pic is ideal fest fare.

In each sequence, the camera remains in a fixed position, recording events that unfold. On a roof, a young boy twists TV antennas so viewers’ reception goes fuzzy. A woman leaves her apartment, showing signs of compulsive behavior. A boy plays his guitar, screaming rather than singing the lyrics. Some young men destroy all the bicycles they can find. Two men in a kitchen try to convince a third man, whose face is digitally obscured, to participate in a game of Russian roulette. These people, and others, reappear throughout the film, which has no traditional narrative, instead describing moods and feelings in Sweden in the new millennium. Helmer-writer Ruben Ostlund shot new sequences when circumstances (including money) allowed.

The Guitar Mongoloid

Sweden

Production

A Trianglefilm release of a Hinden/Lanna-Ateljeerna production. (International sales: Hinden/Lanna-Ateljeerna, Stockholm.) Produced, directed, written by Ruben Ostlund.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Tibor Gent; editor, Harry Lewinsson; music, Bjorn Olsson; art director, Valeria Balogh. Original title: Gitarrmongot. Reviewed at Sture, Stockholm, Oct. 5, 2004. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Erik Rutstrom, Ola Sandstig, Britt-Marie Andersson, Julia Persdotter.
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