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VENICE 2006 Venice Days

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Midlife stasis

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Jesper Ganslandt’s Falkenberg Farewell, a Swedish production by Memfis Film also selected for Toronto, which one of the actors says has a veracity rate of about 42%, remarkably matches form and content.

What presents itself as a scrapbook is, in fact, a collection of memories from the happy youth of the director and his hometown cronies, which mixes old 8mm films, photographs, music, and digital images, and supports the “narrative” (or lack thereof) with titles and a voice-over-read diary.

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The fact that Ganslandt did not wait to be “midway upon the journey of life” to gather his own Wild Strawberries is revealing: the last summer these friends spend together is actually presented as the big turning point of a life, when childhood is already behind us, an uncertain future awaits and the present is spent idly wondering, “Should I stay (and rot like the people at the bar or their own parents, all of whom we meet in the film) or should I go (and be like everybody else who moves to the big city)?”

This choice is reflected in the binary composition of all the scenes, where the characters (as well as the horses and birds) appear two by two to weigh possibilities, complain about the absurdly dull present, and pass the time uselessly playing, just like in the old days – but without the same enthusiasm.

As one of the characters says, the Messiah should arrive in two months, so they might as well wait, and perpetuate their idleness as long as possible, as least this summer – as John says, “I'm not here to fucking paint” – despite their parents' anxiety, as if an escape route from stasis were just going to present itself, which they “can't be bothered” to look for – an expression used by one of the guys when they choose not to steal anything from a house they initially intended to rob, an episode that further emphasizes the heroes’ standstill.

Unlike David, the most nostalgic of all and the only one who knows a decision must be made, Ganslandt does not pack up his diary, his gun, and his life (and thus become one with his past) but wraps up a truly interesting work which gives him a promising future as a director.

The international sales of Falkenberg Farewell are being handled in Denmark by Trust Film Sales.

(Translated from French)

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