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Like It Never Was Before

An offbeat but very watchable black comedy about a hotel handyman who precipitates the breakup of a family, "Like It Never Was Before" could get solid box office returns both in Sweden and abroad, with careful handling.

With:
Rune Runeberg ... Loa Falkman Gunnel Runeberg ... Stina Ekblad Petrus ... Simon Norrthon The Hotel Manager ... Philip Zanden Evelyn ... Sif Ruud Hjordis ... Ghita Norby

An offbeat but very watchable black comedy about a hotel handyman who precipitates the breakup of a family, “Like It Never Was Before” could get solid box office returns both in Sweden and abroad, with careful handling.

Pic is the first script by popular gay writer and standup comic Jonas Gardell, a well-known media personality in Sweden, whose wit targets both gays and gay-bashers. His books are always instant bestsellers.

Like much of Gardell’s other writings, “Like” deals with a family whose members are circumscribed by convention and want to break free. All that’s needed is a catalyst. Here, it’s a young fellow named Petrus (Simon Norrthon), handyman at the seaside Pensionat Oskar.

When the argumentative Runeberg family arrives at the hotel, all are drawn to Petrus; but it’s the father, Rune (Loa Falkman), who falls in love with him and finally finds the strength to break free from the family.

To dub the film a “gay pic” would be to do it a disservice: The Petrus character is more similar to that played by Terence Stamp in Pasolini’s “Teorema.”

Denmark’s Susanne Bier (“Freud Leaving Home”) directs with flair and a feel for Gardell’s black humor. She also makes efficient use of devices like fast and slow motion.

Performances are good down the line, with special praise for Falkman’s likable portrait of the pathetic father and Stina Ekblad’s perf as his wife, Gunnel. Latter shows a talent for comedy that she’s never had the opportunity to demonstrate before.

Pic features quite a lot of male frontal nudity.

Like It Never Was Before

(PENSIONAT OSKAR) (Swedish -- Comedy -- Color)

Production: A Svensk Filmindustri release (in Sweden) of an SVT Kanal 1 Drama production , in association with Svensk Filmindustri, Trust Film, Danmarks Radio, Nordic Film & TV Fund and the Swedish Film Institute. (International sales: SVT, Stockholm.) Produced by Stefan Baron. Directed by Susanne Bier. Screenplay, Jonas Gardell. Camera (color), Kjell Lagerroos; editor, Pernille Bech Christensen; music, Johan Soderqvist; production design, Eva Noren; sound (Dolby), Lennart Gentzel, Borje Johansson, Peter Hennix, Kjell Jacobsson. Reviewed at SF screening room, Stockholm, Feb. 20 , 1995. Running time: 108 min.

With: Rune Runeberg ... Loa Falkman Gunnel Runeberg ... Stina Ekblad Petrus ... Simon Norrthon The Hotel Manager ... Philip Zanden Evelyn ... Sif Ruud Hjordis ... Ghita NorbyWith: Ingvar Hirdwall, Ulla Skoog, Per Sandberg, Anna-Lena Hemstrom, Jakob Eklund, Kalle Eriksson, Maria Simonsson, Linus Gardell.

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