With an ace performance by newcomer Michelle Meadows, “Darling,” a dark comedy about morals and manners in Stockholm, should entrance auds both locally and offshore. Elegant pic, about a chance relationship between a spoiled young rich woman down on her luck and a much older, gentler man, won the Nordic Film Award in Gothenburg’s competition and should be a certainty for more fest dates, as well as an easy sell.
Eva (Meadows), in her late 20s, lives in the posher part of Stockholm, where she shares a flat with b.f. Micke (Richard Ulfsater). Financially supported by her mom, she works simply to have something to do, and spends evenings at restaurants and nightclubs discussing whether her next trip will be to St. Tropez or Avoriaz.
After Eva sleeps with the handsome Nico (Mikael Lindgren), Micke leaves her, and at the same time her mother moves abroad. Suddenly, Eva has to move to a smaller flat and earn money of necessity.
In another part of the city lives Bernard (Michael Segerstrom), who’s in his 50s, divorced and newly unemployed. He starts looking for work — not easy for a man of his age.
One day, Eva and Bernard meet by chance behind the counter at McDonald’s. The outcome is not as predictable as it may seem.
Writer-director Johan Kling previously worked mainly in TV. “Darling” is a development of themes from a short, “Jag,” he made a couple of years ago, also starring Meadows.
Meadows is a joy to behold and hear, conveying the natural arrogance and coldness of the people in Eva’s social circle, as well as the gradual changes in demeanor when she’s forced to face life for real. Her delivery of lines like, “But how can they evict you just because you haven’t paid the rent?” is both funny and chilling.
Segerstrom, a character actor whose films have rarely traveled (apart from “The Best Intentions”), is also tops. His Bernard is a kind and gentle man, but like the rest of the characters, he isn’t turned into a cliche.
As in his small-screen work, Kling directs smoothly. D.p. Geir Hartley Andreassen portrays Stockholm by night in dark, moody widescreen images, both alluring and threatening. Other tech credits are equally fine.