Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Last Sentence (Dom över död man)

So, what was Sweden doing during World War II? Haven't you always wondered? I mean, sure, they were neutral, but how did they...uh...how did they...

Eh, who cares.

Actually, the trailers on The Last Sentence (Dom över död man, in Swedish, literally "Judgment of a Dead Man") looked fabulous: This is the story of Torgny Segerstedt, who poked Hitler in the eye from his newspaper in Stockholm, against the wishes of his publisher, his Prime Minister, and, well, Hermann Goering wasn't crazy about it either.

Doesn't that sound awesome? A guy who stood up to Hitler? Those Nazis were bad guys. They'd kill you just as soon as look at you.

But the Tomatoes were dubious: Critics like (77%) but audiences don't (47%). Now, as I explain to The Boy, it's not always bad when critics like something audiences don't. Critics are more likely to be film fans, and have an appreciation for things that general audiences aren't going to care for.

In the case of The Last Sentence, however, what it means is that, rather than focusing on the heroic struggle of a single man to stand up to Hitler despite the pressure of his country, the movie is primarily about Segerstedt's dysfunctional relationship with his wife and other women.

You know how, when I review a French movie, there's almost always a point where I say something like "I know: French, right?"?

The happiest people in this movie are dead.

I know: Swedish, right?

Segerstedt's haunted by his dead mother, and as people die in the movie, they come to haunt him and debate him in his darkest hours (which is most of them), and they're just as perky in death as they were morose in life.

I don't know. It's beautifully shot in stark black-and-white. Well acted. The characters seem realistic enough. But the struggle with Hitler is so clearly the central focus of Segerstedt's life, it's a shame they didn't make it the focus of the movie.

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