Light on story but heavy on mood and visuals, “God Willing” looks like no other Swedish film of recent years. This melancholy love story about two would-be lovers during a moment in time could score locally thanks to the popularity of rock singer Nina Persson (from the Cardigans), who makes her screen debut. Offshore, this is for arthouses and the fest circuit.
It is 1975, and an extremely hot summer in Stockholm. Immigrant Juan (helmer Amir Chamdin) waits for his wife to join him; meantime, he works day and night, alternating between a fruit market and cleaning up at a hamburger restaurant. One morning, he meets pretty, English-speaking Juli (Persson), and they take a liking to each other.
The two meet every day when Juan is free, talking long walks, going to the movies and talking. Juan’s wife is due to arrive within a week, and the question is whether he and Juli will finally go to bed or not.
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That’s basically it for plot, but “God Willing” is not dependant on story. Within pic’s tight running time, director Chamdin manages to tell a lot about these two people who, at least for the moment, are alone together.
Chamdin gives d.p. Crille Forsberg (who won best cinematography award at the Gothenburg fest) plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the nuances available in B&W lensing. Only scene in color is a short dream sequence.
Forsberg uses the chiaroscuro available in monochrome to compose visuals where much remains hidden. One stunning sequence is when Juan and Juli first meet: he stands inside the restaurant, leaning with his hand on the window; on the sidewalk, Juli, not realizing someone is on the other side, also leans on the window. Their two hands “meet” without either having any contact.
Props from the period are used without any sense of being forced on the viewer. There’s also a distinctive period sense to the way the pic is made, sometimes feeling and looking like a French or Italian film from the late ’60s or early ’70s.
Persson makes a fine screen debut, though the jury is still out on whether she can handle big chunks of dialogue. As the male lead, Chamdin essays a rather shy, introverted style that suits the mood.