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SUDDENLY ('Underbara Älskade') is a delicate little Swedish film by first time writer/director Johan Brisinger (with assistance from Mikael Bengtsson) from 2006 that is appearing now as a foreign film on demand on television: hopefully enough people will see it to encourage the powers that be to release a compatible DVD format in the USA. As with many Swedish films the beauty of the country adds enormously to the story, especially when the story takes place during the exquisitely beautiful midsummer's eve. Cinematographer Henrik Stenberg captures that special quality of light that illuminates the vastness of the countryside and allows that light to provide the atmosphere in which the interaction of the actors takes place.
At the opening of the film we find a happy family of four - mother father, two young boys - preparing for a weekend excursion: once in the car accident happens and the mother and younger son are killed, leaving the older son Jonas (Anastasios) injured to the point of permanent wounds and the father Lasse (Michael Nyquist) as survivors. The film jumps nine months into the future and father and son are in a tenuous relationship, each dealing with grief: Lasse feels guilt for the accident (unjustified) and drinks and sleeps to escape his duties as a doctor while Jonas tries to cope with both his own grief and trying to help his father find stability. Lasse attempts suicide and Jonas' grandparents Ingegerd (Anita Wall) and Sven (Sten Ljunggren) lovingly offer to take care of Jonas until Lasse can find help and recover form his depression. But Lasse wants to keep Jonas so they decide to move to their summer home in Gothenburg. Once there, Lasse finds a degree of solace in his relationship with his friends Simon (Philip Zanden) and his wife Lotta (Catherine Hansson) and the threesome spend quality time and party time together: Lasse finds even more comfort from Lotta in a physical relationship as Lotta feels Simon does not supply her emotional or physical needs. Jonas encounters a freespirited girl named Helena (Moa Gammel) and they two bruised youngsters nurture each other - Helena is Jason's first sexual encounter.
Father and son are unable to communicate about their loss and the accident. The grandparents visit for Midsummer's Eve celebration, Lasse drinks himself into oblivion, and Jonas discovers his father's rowboat burning in the cove nearby and thinking that Lasse is dead, an awakening occurs that helps the father and son begin to repair the damage that their mutual grief has created.
The actors are superb, especially Nyquist as the tortured father. Other particularly strong characterizations are offered by the very beautiful Anita Wall as the grandmother and Sten Ljunggren as the grandfather. The musical score is by Henrik Lörstad who includes piano music by Franz Liszt (Consolations I) and the 'Soave sia il venta' from Mozart's 'Così fan tutte' with Renee Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter and Michele Pertusi conducted by Solti. Every moment of this film is created with great attention to detail and the result is a movie that is deeply touching as well as physically beautiful.
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