×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Behind Blue Skies

The film has enough hormones and humor to challenge U.S. resistance to foreign invasion.

With:
With: Bill Skarsgard, Peter Dalle, Josefin Ljungman. (Swedish dialogue)

Giving Michael Cera some competition as the screen’s personification of teenage-hero-as-hapless-naif, Sweden’s Bill Skarsgard makes the most of a real star turn in writer-director Hannes Holm’s ’70s period comedy “Behind Blue Skies.” A joyously clever take on the coming-of-age story, the film has enough hormones and humor to challenge U.S. resistance to foreign invasion. Likely too mainstream for specialty markets, “Skies” has “remake” written all over it.

Literally wide-eyed teenager Martin (Skarsgard, who has the biggest orbs since Anita Ekberg), passes up a night of sex so he can get home to help his mother. Heterosexual men will admire his fortitude if not his judgment; Martin seems almost too good to be true. Still, when he’s followed around by Goran Hallberg’s camera, we see the extent to which he vents his rage (on inanimate objects) over his father’s alcoholism, his mother’s passivity and his seeming lack of options.

This all changes when a friend’s family invites him along to a bucolic vacation island for the summer (the “friend” subsequently ditching him for greener pastures), and Martin begins work among a troupe of general flunkies at the restaurant and resort run by Gosta (Peter Dalle), a man who takes the concept of being a mentor to weird and unexpected places. Gosta runs a tight ship; anyone caught drinking, or even hung over, is summarily dismissed. He’s also a sarcastic little devil, so the young staff is kept in a virtual state of terror.

One of the wonderful things about “Behind Blue Skies” is the way Gosta, without ever articulating it, responds to Martin’s guilelessness — he considers the boy his heir apparent — as if recalling his own long-buried innocence. That this sort of magical union of souls occurs while Gosta is introducing Martin to his various business interests (hookers, strippers and much worse) is dryly hilarious.

Holm has a delicate hand with his solid cast — in addition to Skarsgard and Dalle, Josefin Ljungman is thoroughly winning as Martin’s co-worker Jenny, who evolves into his love interest. Indeed, Martin grows up beautifully along the way to a near-classic climax.

Tech credits are good, particularly Mattias Barjed’s music, which suggests the ’70s without invoking Abba.

Behind Blue Skies

Sweden

Production: A Fladen Film presentation. (International sales: Trust Nordisk, Copenhagen.) Produced by Patrick Ryborn. Co-producers, Gunnar Carlsson, Lone Korslund, Jesper Bergom-Larsson. Directed, written by Hannes Holm.

Crew: Camera (color), Goran Hallberg; editor, Fredrik Morheden; music, Mattias Barjed; sound (Dolby/DTS), Europa Sound Prod. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2010. Running time: 111 MIN.

With: With: Bill Skarsgard, Peter Dalle, Josefin Ljungman. (Swedish dialogue)

More Film

  • Lionsgate Planning 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie

    Lionsgate Planning 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie

    Lionsgate has begun working on a “Hunger Games” prequel movie, based on a forthcoming novel from writer Suzanne Collins. “As the proud home of the ‘Hunger Games’ movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to [...]

  • Siberia Keanu Reeves

    Saban Films Turns 5: How the Indie Studio Grew While Rivals Faltered

    Saban Films doesn’t make the most noise. It doesn’t have the splashiest premieres or parties. But the indie film label just quietly did what many of its early rival failed to pull off. It celebrated its fifth anniversary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “We stuck to our plan,” Saban Films founder Bill Bromiley told [...]

  • Emanuel

    Film Review: 'Emanuel'

    Mass shootings continue to be a shameful stain on contemporary American history. They strike at such a frequent rate that the way they occupy news cycles before losing the public’s short-spanned attention has become appallingly routine. With his somber documentary “Emanuel,” released by Fathom Events in theaters for two nights only (June 17 and 19), [...]

  • Men in Black International

    Box Office: 'Men in Black: International,' 'Shaft' Add to Summer Sequel Slump

    As “Men in Black: International” and “Shaft” join the growing list of under-performing sequels this summer — an ignominious group that includes “Dark Phoenix” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” — worries of franchise fatigue are beginning to simmer in Hollywood. “Franchises that don’t up the ante or bring anything new into the fold are [...]

  • Song Ge

    Beijing Culture's Song Ge Urges Mainstream Directors to Toe Government Line

    The publicity-shy chief of Beijing Culture, which has backed such Chinese mega-hits as “Wolf Warrior II” and “The Wandering Earth,” openly urged film directors Monday to stick to material pleasing to the Chinese state, for the sake of their investors. “If you’re shooting an art house or smaller budget films, it’s no problem — say [...]

  • Iran presentation at Shanghai film festival

    Shanghai: China-Iran Heading Towards Co-Production Treaty

    “China has signed co-production agreements with 22 countries. Similar agreements between Iran and China are in the works, and will be signed by the end of this year,” said Miao Xiaotian, GM of the China Film Co-Production Corporation on Monday. Miao was speaking at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which is hosting a six-title Focus Iran section [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content