The Bricklayer

A documentary portrait by Stefan Jarl of Swedish actor Thommy Berggren, "The Bricklayer" is both moving and insightful.

A documentary portrait by Stefan Jarl of Swedish actor Thommy Berggren, “The Bricklayer” is both moving and insightful. In “Life at Any Cost” (1998), Jarl’s docu on director Bo Widerberg, Berggren was the narrator, with entertaining memories of working not only with Widerberg on some of his best-known films (“Raven’s End,” “Elvira Madigan,” “Joe Hill”) but also with directors including Ingmar Bergman. In “The Bricklayer,” Berggren talks about what made him become an actor. Pic won top prize in the Gothenburg fest’s Nordic Competition, and half the money is earmarked to promote the film at Cannes this year.

Berggren talks about both acting and his parents — especially his father, a bright man with radical ideas whose life was ruined by alcohol. Thesp sees the roots of his ambition to become an actor in the relationship with his father, and Jarl underlines this by cross-cutting the interview with excerpts from both theater productions and films. However, the docu lacks any depiction of what the 65-year-old Berggren’s own family (he’s married, with two young kids) means for his acting and directing ambitions nowadays. Also, his international career is never referred to.

The Bricklayer


  • Production: A Folkets Bio release of a Stefan Jarl production, with participation of the Swedish Film Institute, SVT Gothenburg, Film i Vast. (International sales: Svensk Filmindustri, Stockholm.) Produced, directed, written by Stefan Jarl.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Halldor Gunnarsson, Joakim Johansson, Per Kallberg, Viggo Lundberg; editors, Jarl, Johansson; music, Ulf Dageby; production designer, Staffan Hedqvist. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Nordic Competition), Feb. 2, 2002. Running time: 95 MIN.
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