Popular Swedish actress Helena Bergstrom makes a surprisingly assured helming bow with "Mind the Gap." Energetic romantic comedy with an immigrant twist is fun and entertaining, while still keeping a foot firmly in reality.

Popular Swedish actress Helena Bergstrom makes a surprisingly assured helming bow with “Mind the Gap.” Energetic romantic comedy with an immigrant twist is fun and entertaining while still keeping a foot firmly in reality. Aided by positive reviews and Bergstrom’s built-in audience, pic should score locally; offshore chances also look bright.

Yasmin (Nina Zanjani) is a Turkish woman in her mid-20s who lives with her father, Sinan (Turkish thesp Korhan Abay), mother Ayse (Zinat Pirzadeh) and younger sister Dilek (Stella Enciso). Having grown up in Sweden, she has a liberated attitude and wants to become a policewoman.

Back in Turkey, Sinan was a highly respected surgeon before being forced to leave the country. In Sweden, he applied for a similar job but was refused and now drives subway trains. Unhappy and bitter, and with a limited knowledge of Swedish, he still rehearses the hand movements of a surgeon by night.

At the police academy, Yasmin meets Elin (Rakel Warmlander), a woman her own age, and the two immediately hit it off. Yasmin also meets Elin’s b.f., Henke (Mattias Redbo), and they clearly find each other attractive. When Elin sleeps with one of the men at the police academy, and Yasmin and Henke get cozy, the friendship between the two women becomes strained.

Though it’s a romantic comedy, pic still takes care to reflect the realities of racial prejudice in contempo Sweden, where many skilled immigrants are forced to take jobs beneath their qualifications.

Since 1990, Bergstrom has worked closely with her husband, helmer Colin Nutley, playing the lead in all his films. (Nutley is the producer of “Mind the Gap,” and editor is Nutley regular Perry Schaffer.) However, where Nutley’s films are often meditative, Bergstrom’s is as lively as the actress herself. Her enthusiasm for the characters shines despite her lack of experience as a director.

Warmlander and Zanjani are very good as the two women, and Bergstrom pushes both actresses further than usual. Other actors are all fine, with Abay bringing dignity to the immigrant father who’s light years away from the cliche immigrant fathers in other Swedish films.

Pic is loaded with amusing incidents, both from the police academy and from the private lives of the protags. The only subplot that feels redundant sees Elin and Yasmin suspecting a racist classmate at the academy of being a right-wing criminal, which feels like something lifted from a detective movie for kids.

Mind the Gap

Sweden

Production

A Svensk release of a Sweetwater Filmright II production, in association with Svensk, TV4, Cinema Art Prods., Succefilm, with participation of Break Even. (International sales: Svensk, Stockholm.) Produced by Colin Nutley. Co-producer, Waldemar Bergendahl. Directed by Helena Bergstrom. Screenplay, Denize Karabuda, from an idea by Bergstrom, Karabuda.

Crew

Camera (color), Olof Johnson; editor, Perry Schaffer; music, Per Andreasson; art director, Pernilla Olsson; costume designer, Maria Strid; sound (Dolby Digital), Lasse Liljeholm, Eddie Axberg. Reviewed at Svensk screening room, Stockholm, Jan. 17, 2007. (In Gothenburg Film Festival.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Rakel Warmlander, Nina Zanjani, Korhan Abay, Zinat Pirzadeh, Dan Ekborg, Birgitte Sondergaard, Mattias Redbo, Lars Bethke, Stella Enciso, Erik Johansson. (Swedish, Turkish dialogue)
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