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Austerity is one thing in a thriller, starving the audience of suspense, character-insight and thrills quite another. Slow-drip Swedish pic “Bad Faith” follows a troubled woman who becomes moreso after crossing paths with a serial killer. Laden with portentous cold-empty-city atmosphere but little substance, this somber bore might find some contrarian critical supporters, but commercial prospects look DOA.

Mona (Sonja Richter) is a new corporate hire in an unfamiliar city so underpopulated by director Kristian Petri you might assume there’s been an evacuation. She’s a tad standoffish and strange, even before chancing upon a stab victim in an alley. Rather than calling for help, she simply observes his dying moments, then joins co-workers in a bar. Yet the incident obsesses her, and she soon witnesses more violent acts. Neither script nor perf renders the heroine more than a high-strung cipher. Following a shiver-free rural climax, pic ends on an intendedly macabre note whose final shot underlines the whole enterprise’s exasperating, mannered minimalism. Ditto Hoyte van Hoytema’s stark widescreen lensing, so effective in “Let the Right One In.”

Bad Faith

Sweden

  • Production: A St. Paul Film production. (International sales: TrustNordisk Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Johannes Ahlund. Executive producer, Fredrik Heinig. Directed by Kristian Petri. Screenplay, Magnus Dahlstrom.
  • Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Hoyte van Hoytema; editor, Johan Soderberg; music, Fredrik Emilson; production designer, Charles Koroly; art director, Asa Isacsson. Reviewed at Toronto Food Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 9, 2010. Running time: 105 MIN.
  • With: With: Sonja Richter, Jonas Karlsson, Kristoffer Koroly, Magnus Krepper, Jorghen Berthage, Sven Ahlstrom.
  • Music By: