A coming-of-ager made with no money but plenty of heart and cinematic smarts, first-time writer-helmer Jesper Ganslandt’s “Falkenberg Farewell” is by turns funny, tragic and nostalgic. The emotion generated by the movie — as five friends in their early 20s spend a final summer together — stays with the viewer long after the film has ended. Positive reviews and word of mouth should generate modest B.O. in Sweden, when it opens late September; meanwhile, fest exposure in Venice and Toronto will help its offshore profile.
Pic is set in Falkenberg, a small town on Sweden’s west coast, south of Gothenburg. The five friends grew up together there, but now realize their lives are changing. Holger (Holger Eriksson) wants to stay in the town forever and spends all his time with best friend David (David Johnson), skinny-dipping in a local stream, walking in the woods, talking about their childhood memories and the future. David records all his inner thoughts in a diary.
Holger’s brother, John (John Axel Eriksson), doesn’t say much; Jorgen (Jorgen Svensson) has lots of ideas about how to make money; and Jesper (helmer Ganslandt) is a loner who visits his ailing father without making any real contact with him.
By the time the summer is over, a tragic incident will have made their respective futures even more uncertain.
Pic started out as a hobby for Ganslandt and his friends. Talking about themselves, their memories and their thoughts about the future, they decided to make a film, all playing characters based on themselves. Ganslandt wrote the script with Fredrik Wenzel, who was also the cinematographer.
After shooting the film on DV, Ganslandt got in touch with producer Anna Anthony at Memfis, the company behind the pics of Lukas Moodysson and Josef Fares. Veteran editor Michal Leszczylowski helped Ganslandt shorten the movie to a manageable 91 minutes, down from his original 135.
The story, the cinematography and the music by Erik Enocksson combine to create a mood of impending doom. The sometimes shaky handheld camera, often breathing down the characters’ necks, adds to the atmosphere.
Though the film is centered on men and male love, it’s not in any way sexual. It’s more about close friendship and the despair that comes when that friendship looks like it is ending. As such, it’s likely to leave many viewers with a lump in the throat.