The Local's Swedish film of the month: As It Is in Heaven

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The Local's Swedish film of the month: As It Is in Heaven
Frida Hallgren and Michael Nyqvist in 'As It Is in Heaven'. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Film writer Peter Larkin reviews Kay Pollak's 'As It Is in Heaven' (2004), starring late actor Michael Nyqvist.


Beloved Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist passed away in June of lung cancer aged 56.

His portrayal of the internationally acclaimed conductor Daniel Darèus in 'As It Is in Heaven' is among his best known roles and for good reason.

READ ALSO: More Swedish movie reviews on The Local

After suffering a heart attack on stage Daniel retires from conducting and moves back to a small village in Norrland where he spent some years as a boy. It doesn’t take long before Daniel agrees to conduct the local choir.

The ensemble cast features some peculiar individuals such as the local priest Stig (Niklas Falk) who is stern and controlling. Arne (Lennart Jähkel) annoys just about everyone in the choir with his comments on tiny mistakes. Lena (Frida Hallgren) has in a sense an angel’s presence in the choir; she breathes life into the film.

The presence and intensity of Michael Nyqvist is up there with Oliver Reed and Patrick McGoohan. Each actor’s dynamism radiates energy even just by standing in the frame.

The film is a comedy ensemble of manners with a feel of Swedish life, a small village, a community.

It achieved success in Europe (8 Guldbagge Nominations in Sweden), Australia (performed in cinemas for 103 weeks), New Zealand (52 weeks) and USA (Oscar Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film). The ballad 'Gabriella’s Song' performed by Helen Sjöholm was made famous by the film.

Peter Larkin is an Irish film writer currently based in Sweden. Read his blog here.

Watch below: Helen Sjöholm performing 'Gabriella's Song' live on another occasion:


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