After winning some acclaim for his 2007 bigscreen debut "Darling," writer-director Johan Kling experiences a sophomore slump with "Trust Me."

After winning some acclaim for his 2007 bigscreen debut “Darling,” writer-director Johan Kling experiences a sophomore slump with “Trust Me.” Still trawling the fest circuit more than a year past its home-turf theatrical release, this glumly misanthropic backstage ensembler is the kind of enterprise one suspects amused its makers a whole lot more than it ever will any paying customers. Thesp Alexander Skarsgard’s rising international star should help snag some home-format sales.

The youngish members of a theater company led by writer-director Katja (Susanne Thorson) are rehearsing her latest play, but she seems the only person truly invested in the effort. Everyone else is bored, lazy, predatory, pathetic and/or a liar, with nearly all those terms applicable to Katja’s b.f. Alex (Skarsgard), who’s about to find out he’s impregnated another company member (Philomene Grandin). Other types involved in less-than-hilarious hijinks include the resident Don Juan (Lars Bringas), the lone plus-sized female (Lotti Tornros) and the peeping-tom landlord (Michael Segerstrom) anxious to evict them all for murky reasons.

In its final stretch, the pic tries a turn toward the warm and fuzzy via improved romantic prospects and justice properly meted out. But it’s much too little, too late after so much time spent with dully unsympathetic characters in quasi-farcical situations devoid of fizz.

A soundtrack packed with retro jazz attempts to force some jauntiness into the proceedings, to little avail. Those who eventually rent “Trust Me” (originally entitled “Puss,” or “Kiss”) to feast their eyes on “True Blood’s” Skarsgard will feel at least partly compensated; the actor briefly runs around clad only in a towel, then a skimpy kimono.

Performers are competent if hardly challenged. Packaging is slick enough.

Trust Me

Sweden

Production

A St. Paul Film production in association with Sveriges Television, Gotlands Filmfond, Nordisk Film, Filmregion Stockholm-Malardalen and 4 1/2 Film. (International sales: Trust Nordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Fredrik Heinig, Mathilde Dedye. Executive producers, Gunnar Carlsson, Bo Rehnberg, Lone Korslund, Ake Lundstrom, Karin Julsrud. Directed, written by Johan Kling.

Crew

Camera (color), Jakob Ihre; editors, Johan Soderberg, Patrik Gyllstrom; production designer, Roger Rosenberg; costume designer, Anna Grenas. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Oct. 12, 2011. (In Mill Valley Film Festival -- World Cinema.) Running time: 119 MIN.

With

Susanne Thorson, Alexander Skarsgard, Philomene Grandin, Michael Segerstrom, Lotti Tornros, Gitte Witt, Lars Bringas, Michelle Meadows, Peter Carlberg, Moa Gammel, Richard Ulfsater, Vera Vitali, Gustaf Skarsgard.

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