Swedish with English subtitles
Director: Kay Pollak
Cast: Michel Nyqvist, Frida Hallgren
RunTime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-Keris
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)
Released Date: 8 September 2005
A successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his
career and returns alone to his childhood village in Norrland,
in the far north of Sweden. It doesn't take long before he
is asked to come and listen to the fragment of a church choir,
which practises every Thursday in the parish hall. Just come
along and give a little bit of good advice. He can't say no,
and from that moment, nothing in the village is the same again.
The choir develops and grows. He makes both friends and enemies.
And he finds love.
it comes to watching films, there should be times when we
should ditch the cynics in us at the door. This definitely
applies to this Swedish film. The story is simple. The characters
are stereotypical archetypes that are predictable in their
every line and action. The leads are not even exactly the
best-looking movie stars around. But at the core of this sincere
film is something real and close to our hearts.
are no complicated twists and turns in the story. It tells
the tale of Daniel (Michael Nyqvist), a successful and talented
conductor, who returns the rural village he grew up in, to
recover from a heart attack. No one recognizes him because
he had changed his name many years ago. Soon, he is approached
to lead the local church choir. As he confronts his own past
demons, love comes in the form of one of the choir members,
Lena (Frida Hallgren), who helps him to find who he really
is. Along the way, Daniel also unknowingly upsets the insular
town’s social balance.
very interesting or intriguing storyline, you say? It is precisely
this simple plot about the beauty of life that makes this
film a gem amongst other Hollywood commercial blockbusters.
is carried by a top-notch cast. Nyqvist, who is an acclaimed
and professionally-trained actor in Sweden, captures the initial
loneliness, miserly and exhaustion of his character perfectly.
Throughout the film, you see him open up, and eventually finding
his own peace of mind. Hallgren, on the other hand, brings
out the charm, liveliness and youth in Lena, which is a nice
contrast to Nyqvist’s Daniel.
Kay Pollack’s confidence in directing shows brilliantly.
Every scene captivates viewers with its heartfelt emotions.
Music is superbly used, and the scenic remoteness of the village
in Norrland, northern Sweden, is captured beautifully on camera.
This is Pollack’s first film in 18 years since 1986’s
Love Me, and we can see this man still has what it takes.
His work was recognized during the recent 77th Academy Awards,
when it was nominated it in the category of Best Foreign Film.
However, this fourteenth nomination for Sweden did not bag
the award, which eventually went to the rather overrated The
Sea Inside from Spain.
at 130 minutes, there may be certain bits of the film which
seem sluggish. Fortunately, thanks to the endearing Daniel
and the rest of the wonderfully cast members of the village,
the viewing experience is still a pleasant one.
thing the audience may have problems with is the simple characterizations
in the film. Everyone has a straightforward role – the
teacher, the artist, the priest, the abuser, the abused, the
messiah, the bully; everything appears so clear-cut and one-dimensional.
But, there is so much honesty in them that their petty differences
seem to be a stark reflection of our own lives.
it all off, the film features some truly moving scenes which
will leave you mesmerized with the beauty of music and on
a deeper level, life. Other than the obligatory final inspiring
scene, another gorgeous sequence to look out for is when the
abused wife, Gabriella (Helen Sjöholm), sings a song
specially written for her. One of Sweden’s biggest musical
stars on stage, Sjöholm’s voice will enchant the
cynic in you.
there are no loud explosions and no fancy computer generated
effects to draw in the average movie-goer. But do yourself
a favour, watch this film, experience the beauty of life,
and you will take home a piece of heaven with you.
small movie with a big heart that you should not miss!)
by John Li