Reviewed by Drew Ninnis.
Director: Maximilian Hult
Screenplay: Maximilian Hult
Runtime: 90 minutes
Cast: Moa Gammel, Anita Wall, Erik Lundqvist, Simon J. Berger.
Trailer: “I think he's my new grandfather.”
Plot: Isolated and awkward Lou discovers her grandmother Frida is still alive, and decides to stay with her following the death of her grandfather. Staying in the small Swedish village that Frida calls home is more eventful than expected, as she is courted by local Henrik, and joins in helping old-beyond-his-years local kid Tom find out what he is good at.
Review: Maximilian Hult’s directing debut, Home, is a gentle and humorous tale set in a small town on the Swedish coast. It is hard to describe the strange, refreshing pleasures of this film, which manages to be feel-good without being overly saccharine or predictable. This is partly due to a clever but subtle script penned by director Hult; however, your heart will be captured by the plight and performance of poor Tom. But more about Tom in a minute.
Home begins with the domestic harmony of elderly couple Frida and Yngve, the latter of whom is not long for this world. Enter twenty-something granddaughter Lou, who is not even aware of the existence of her grandparents due to a long-buried dispute between them and domineering mother Eva. Informed of her grandfather’s death, Lou insists on travelling to her grandparents home to attend the funeral. On arrival she finds Frida in excellent spirits and unfazed by her recent misfortune. Frida is understandably eager to have Lou stay and reconnect with her daughter; but Lou remains reluctant to disobey her mothers will, dutifully returning to town before finally deciding to defy Eva and return home.
In portraying Lou, actress Moa Gammel skilfully walks a tightrope – making her character’s social inadequacies and difficulty in relating to others apparent, but highly sympathetic. Local pianist and loafer Henrik, played competently by Simon J. Berger, is quick to fall for the beautiful girl and is almost perversely attracted to persist in his efforts despite Lou’s inexperience and misunderstandings. Their romance is a gentle accompaniment to the film, demonstrating the mysteries of human nature and attraction, while laughing at the amusing lengths a man will go to in order to connect with an hard-to-get girl. A particularly amusing moment of awkwardness from Lou in a book store has them on a follow-up date panning for gold; a wonderful act of accidental randomness that the film succeeds in making entirely natural.
But the film is stolen by the characterisations of elderly Frida and bullied child Tom, who strike up an odd friendship and quickly become comfortable friends. The performances of both Anita Wall and Erik Lundqvist are exceptional in their easy nature and accuracy; as they quickly settle into a charming, casual intimacy. Tom is old beyond his years, and the script’s greatest success is the hilariously adult dialogue it puts in the mouth of this babe. Tom is good at nothing, and constantly teased at school – with a frazzled mother, and the time of youth on his hands. Turning up to a birthday party on the wrong day, Tom instead encounters Frida and volunteers to give her the present instead – before discovering his mother has gifted his own pelota xistera (a Spanish ball game played with a rubber ball, and weaved basket as a mitt). He has no idea what it is for, Tom informs Frida, but it is great for hurling pinecones. Frida responds that he must stop around for coffee and show her; kicking off a delightful friendship where, under her guidance, Tom attempts cooking, piano, interior design, gymnastics (by jumping off a roof), and a host of other inspired activities in order to discover the one thing Tom must be good at.
The film progresses gradually though the story stages one would expect; but that is not to its detriment, as it is a pleasure simply spending time with these characters and their regular breaks for coffee, afternoon tea, and dinner. Frida is only too game to warmly encourage both Tom’s next attempts, as well as Lou and Henrik’s hesitant steps towards romance. It is fitting, then, that ultimately, and stealthily, the heart of the film belongs to Frida – coming to terms with her husband’s death through the company of others.
It is a company that is worth keeping, at least for an hour or two. Hult has composed and delivered an unusual but ultimately successful film.
Rating: Three and a half stars.