The best Swedish coming-of-ager since Lukas Moodysson’s “Fucking Amal” (aka “Show Me Love”), “BitterSweetHeart” is an appealing, charming pic about teenagers, friendship and sex. The popularity of the original novel, combined with positive reviews, should make the film a local hit, especially with older teens. Brisk sales to other countries look likely, though pic’s sexual frankness and nudity could prove a problem in conservative territories.
Story centers on ninth graders, ages 15 and 16, who are about to enter the adult world but at the same time are still kids. Main character, Lina (Mylaine Hedreul), is tired of not being kissed and has started to think about maybe losing her virginity. Her two best friends are Thea (Alice Kastrup Moller) — pretty, popular and the one who sets the rules within the gang — and the fun but unpredictable Carro (Lovisa Onnermark).
Enter the boys, and the question of with whom Lina will “do it.” Candidates are the older, smooth-talking Danne (Rickard Roxvall) and Ivar (Viktor Axelsson). Latter is Lina’s own age and the subject of her dreams, even though she’s decided he’s basically a jerk.
Danish helmer Hella Joof (“Oh Happy Day”) shows a sensitive hand in dealing with young actors and with their emotions. Her acting background surely helped. Hedreul, especially, is a revelation, playing five years younger than her true age, 20, and without a false note in her perf.
It’s even more astonishing considering the sometimes difficult scenes the young thesps have to handle. Some offshore distribs may want to edit some of the sexual content, which for the U.S. borders on NC-17. In Sweden, pic has gotten a G certificate.
All tech credits are fine. Original title means “Lina’s Diary.”