Review: ‘The Crown Jewels’

Following the intersecting fates of two families -- one rich, the other poor -- that welcome babies on the same day, fanciful Swedish tale "The Crown Jewels" is an exercise in fabulism that fails to burnish the reputations of Swedish helmer Ella Lemhagen ("Patrik, Age 1.5") and hot twentysomething stars Alicia Vikander and Bill Skarsgard.

Following the intersecting fates of two families — one rich, the other poor — that welcome babies on the same day, fanciful Swedish tale “The Crown Jewels” is an exercise in fabulism that fails to burnish the reputations of Swedish helmer Ella Lemhagen (“Patrik, Age 1.5”) and hot twentysomething stars Alicia Vikander and Bill Skarsgard. Awkwardly pieced together from a TV multiparter, the choc-a-bloc story, framed as a mystery, plays more like outline than essence, with character development, motivations and names of mysterious illnesses frustratingly lost on the cutting-room floor. Still, further fests may bite.

Weird, wealthy Richard (Skarsgard as a teen; Jonatan Bokman, Edvin Ryding in younger editions) tries to impress feisty Fragancia (Vikander as a teen; Louise Radon, Amanda Lunegren in younger versions), but she only has eyes for skating ace Pettersson-Jonsson (Bjorn Gustafsson), who glides off in a sexually surprising direction. When Fragancia’s Down Syndrome brother (Jesper Lindberger) drowns, she blames Richard. But does she shoot him? By now, who cares? Handsome production design haphazardly blends winsome anachronism with bare-bones contempo stylings, although here the fault might lie with the budget rather than the script.

The Crown Jewels

Sweden

Production

A Nordisk Film release of a Filmlance Intl. production in co-production with Sveriges Television, Nordisk Film, Film i Vast, Filmgate, Ljud & Bildmedia, Nordisk Film Post Prod., Europa Sound Prod., Angel Films. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Lars Blomgren, Tomas Michaelsson, Gabija Siurbyte. Directed by Ella Lemhagen. Screenplay, Carina Dahl, Lemhagen.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Anders Boman, Rolandas Joneliukstis, Audrius Budrys; editor, Thomas Lagerman; music, Fredrik Emilson; production designers, Raimondas Dicius, Linas Pozera, Roger Rosenberg; costume designers, Daiga Rybakoviene, Aldona Levandaviciene, Moa Li Lemhagen Schalin. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 13, 2012. Running time: 116 MIN.

With

Alicia Vikander, Bill Skarsgard, Bjorn Gustafsson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Alexandra Rapaport, Radon Jesper Lindberger, Loa Falkman, Sara Lindh, Louise, Amanda Lunegren, Jonatan Bokman, Edvin Ryding. (Swedish, English dialogue)

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