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Love & Happiness

Though its theme is hardly new, there's a fresh and invigorating feel to "Love & Happiness" that makes it worth a look, despite last year's heavy output of similar Swedish pics. Good reviews should result in solid local B.O. for this first outing by writer-director Kristina Humle, with future fest exposure a possibility.

Though its theme is hardly new — a young woman trying to find her place in contempo society — there’s a fresh and invigorating feel to “Love & Happiness” that makes it worth a look, despite last year’s heavy output of similar Swedish pics. Good reviews should result in solid local B.O. for this first outing by writer-director Kristina Humle, with future fest exposure a possibility.

Twenty-year-old Minna (newcomer Henna Ohranen, excellent) lives in the countryside town of Eriksberg, where she works in the kitchen of a large factory. Her mother is dead, and her father (Dag Malmberg) has a new wife (Lena Nilsson), who finally persuades Minna to find a place of her own.

Minna is dissatisfied with her life but can’t put a finger on what’s eating her. She falls in love with her driving instructor, Tomas (Tobias Aspelin), and, although he has a fiancee, they embark on an affair. Meanwhile, Ronny (Jonas Hellman-Driessen), who’s Minna’s age, tries to get her interested in him in a rather aggressive way.

Minna’s best friend, Simone (Erica Koop Nedrell), seems satisfied with small-town life. When Minna’s dad invites Jesper (Andreas La Chenardiere), a famous young chef in Stockholm, to come to Eriksberg to cook a birthday meal for his wife, boy-crazy Simone seduces Jesper, with unexpected consequences.

“Love & Happiness” is a small, unpretentious and charming film that most of the time rings true to life. It’s clear Humle has firsthand experience of living in a place like the fictional Eriksberg, and she brings even more authenticity to the story by almost exclusively using new and unknown actors. Big letdown is the final scene, where a happy ending simply pops out of the blue.

Lenser Marek Wieser’s use of muted colors underlines the claustrophobic feel of such towns, and their lack of any special scenic appeal.

Love & Happiness

Sweden

  • Production: A Sonet Film release of a Memfis Film production, in association with Film i Vast, Sveriges Television, Zentropa Entertainments5, Nordic Film & TV Fund. (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Copenhagen.) Produced by Lars Jonsson. Directed, written by Kristina Humle.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Marek Wieser; editors, Michal Leszczylowski, Malkin Lindfstrom; music, Mario Adamson; art director, Lene Willumsen; costume designer, Denise Ostholm; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Niclas Merits, Henrik Norberg. Reviewed at Rigoletto, Stockholm, Dec. 20, 2004. Running time: 90 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Henna Ohranen, Erica Koop Nedrell, Dag Malmberg, Andreas La Chenardiere, Tobias Aspelin, Lena Nilsson, Jonas Hellman-Driessen, Ida Wahlund, Emma Peters, Jens Ohlin, Anna Yrsa Fallenius, Lotta Tejle.
  • Music By: