Moodysson film not for the faint-hearted

On September 17th Lukas Moodysson's new film, A Hole in My Heart (Ett hål i mitt hjärta), opens throughout Sweden. The director's fourth feature film (after Fucking Åmal, Together, and Lilja 4-ever) was produced under a shroud of secrecy, and few details leaked from the tightly knit cast and crew.

A Hole in My Heart premiered in Stockholm last week and the film seems to have carried on in the spirit of Moodysson’s stark, bleak Lilja 4-ever, a film whose protagonist finds herself travelling from a desperate life in an unnamed ex-Soviet republic to sexual slavery in Sweden.

“Violent sex and vomit,” declared Aftonbladet, explaining why children under the age of 15 would not be allowed to see the movie, which was was filmed in seventeen days in a rented apartment in Trollhättan.

The film has four characters. Rickard, played by Thorsten Flinck, is an amateur porn director. Rickard’s friend Geko (Goran Marjanoviç) and a young woman (Sanna Bråding) are enlisted to make a sex film in his apartment, while his teenaged son Eric (Björn Almroth) sulks in the corner of the room.

Moodysson’s choice of Thorsten Flinck was one of the first issues the Swedish press latched onto. Flinck has had his share of coverage in the culture pages for his work in films and as a director for the stage, but with spats with his co-workers and an alleged major substance abuse problem he’s given the evening papers plenty to talk about too.

A Hole in My Heart was made somewhat collectively, and the four actors are listed in the closing credits as collaborators on the manuscript. Flinck’s reputation (veering towards bad-boy control freak) led to press speculation that he would either take over the film or simply “run amok, naked and drunk”.

But Moodysson’s first interviews on the film dismissed all such concerns, and he said that his choice for the part of Rickard was relatively straightforward.

“I saw a huge kindness in Flinck,” he said to Sydsvenskan.

In a Canadian film festival A Hole in My Heart was described as “a satire of the whole reality television trend and its false celebrities.”

But Moodysson takes issue with this view and explained in a long interview with Dagens Nyheter this week that his work was primarily influenced by the Marxist idea of reification.

He added that the film is really about “people who attempt to navigate in a setting where everything is for sale, where everything is disposable.”

In the same article Moodysson described an inspiring trip to Stockholm’s Skansen with his children where he saw a seething pile of hairless rats, and the scene that followed.

“I talked about it with the actors and in one of the first things we filmed – and this sounds like the worst sect type thing – I asked them to play naked rats, but clothed. We turned on enormously loud death metal music, turned off the lights, and lit the actors with pocket torches.”

Moodysson’s methods might stray a tad from the norm, but his subject matter has caused serious discussion within Sweden – where Lilja 4-ever gained notoriety because it dealt with a side of Nordic prosperity that most Swedes would prefer to know nothing about.

In interviews on A Hole in My Heart he has discussed his move away from the somewhat cozy imagery that marked his first two films.

“In the real world terrible things happen all the time. It’s good to feel bad after a film. I think that it’s psychopathic to not feel bad about the way the world looks.”

Despite his apparent attempts to educate the filmgoing public, Moodysson has remained cagey about A Hole in My Heart along with his cast and crew.

“I’ve made a wonderful meal for everyone, but I’m not going to chew it for you as well,” he told Svenska Dagbladet.

It might be worth skipping dinner before attending a screening.

Ett hål i mitt hjärta opens on Friday 17th September throughout Sweden.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet

Related Topics



How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic

A front-line Swedish nurse is getting some Covid downtime with a week of private screenings of the Gothenburg film festival, in a former lighthouse off the country's west coast.

How a Swedish film festival is offering a nurse downtime during pandemic
Competition winner Lisa Enroth.

More than 12,000 candidates from 45 countries applied to watch the festival's films in almost near isolation on an island 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Stockholm.

The prize is a week viewing as many of the festival's 70 premieres as they like in a hotel in the former Pater Noster Lighthouse. But they will be in isolation and will have no access to their own computer or laptop.

READ ALSO: Decision on stricter restrictions for foreign travellers to be made quickly

The bright-red lighthouse, built on a tiny island off Sweden's west coast in 1868, is surrounded by a scattering of squat, red buildings originally built to house the lighthouse keeper's family. It can only be reached by boat or helicopter, depending on the weather.

After a series of interviews and tests, festival organisers chose emergency nurse and film buff Lisa Enroth for the prize, in keeping with the 2021 festival's theme, Social Distances.

Before boarding a small speedboat out to the island on the clear, chill winter's morning, Enroth said she had applied not only out of her love for the cinema, but also to seek respite from her hectic work as an emergency nurse during the pandemic.

“It has been hectic, so it's a nice opportunity just to be able to land and to reflect over the year,” she said.

Months working amid Covid crisis

Sweden, which has taken a light-touch approach to the pandemic compared to its neighbours, has been facing a stronger than expected second wave of the virus. So far, more than 11,500 people have died from Covid-19 across the country.

Enroth works in the emergency ward of a hospital in Skovde in central Sweden. Since the start of the pandemic, her hospital's work caring for virus patients on top of their regular workload has been intense.

Lisa Enroth on her way to the remote festival location. Photo: AFP

“We had a lot of Covid cases during this year and every patient that has been admitted to the hospital has been passing through the emergency ward,” she told journalists.

The organisers said they were surprised by the numbers of applicants for the prize but were confident they had chosen the right candidate — not only for her love of cinema.

“She has also dedicated this past year in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic,” the festival's creative director Jonas Holmberg said to AFP.

“That's also one of the reasons we chose her”. 

Isolated screenings

Boarding the boat dressed in a thick survival suit, Enroth sped over the calm, icy waters, jumping off in the island's tiny harbour and disappearing into her lodgings.

A screen has been set up in the lantern room at the top of the windswept island's lighthouse, offering a 360-degree view of the sea and coastline around.

Another wide screen has been set up in one of the island's buildings.

Enroth will also have a tablet and headphones if she wants to watch films elsewhere on the island, which measures just 250 metres by 150 metres.

With only one other person staying permanently on the island — a safety precaution — Enroth's only contact with the outside world will be through her video diary about the films she has viewed.

The festival's films will be shown online and two venues in Gothenburg itself will allow screenings for just one person at a time.

Holmberg, the festival's creative director, said he hoped events like these would maintain interest in the industry at a time when many screens are closed because of pandemic restrictions.

“We are longing so much to come back to the cinemas and in the meantime we have to be creative and do the things that we can to create discussion,” he told journalists.