A reluctant post about a movie I probably should love more
Some bloggers find pleasure in trashing movies in the most sadistic way possible. They take pride in pointing out inconsistencies and flaws and you can sense their underlying joy as they articulate their criticism (often in a very entertaining manner.)
I’m not one of those.
I’m at my absolutely happiest when I can share my unreserved love for a movie. And fortunately I’m pretty easy to please – or perhaps I choose movies wisely – because I end up loving most movies I see.
And then there are a few movies somewhere in between. The ones that don’t warrant a 1/5 or a 5/5, but something in between. And those 3/5 movies are the truly pesky one to write about as a movie blogger. Neither disastrous, nor brilliant, just a boring, halfway “meh”. It doesn’t really inspire to anything.
Sadly enough the new Swedish movie Eat Sleep Die ended up in this category. The in-betweeners, which I have nothing special to say about. And I feel like a complete jerk for not loving it more than I do. How can’t I?
1. It’s about marginalized people in a rural area in Sweden. Those who rarely, if ever, are pictured on the screen. They’re working class, they’re unemployed, they’re immigrants, they’re poor, broken and ill. It’s about time someone moves out of the big cities to tell their story.
2. The director is a woman. In US about 7 percent of the movies are made by women. In Sweden the number is slightly better after efforts to give extra public support to female directors, but we’re still far from the official 50/50 goal. I probably should be loyal to my gender and support her, no?
3. All critics love it. And by “all”, I mean everyone. There’s no disagreement whatsoever and now they’re even going to show it to the Swedish parliament! That’s how publicly hugged this film is. I would be highly surprised if it didn’t win a bunch of categories in the Swedish yearly equivalence to the Oscar Awards, Guldbaggen. And it seems to be successful on the festival fare as well. How can I go against all those knowledgeable people?
4. Those behind the film seem like genuinely nice people if I’m to believe Emil over at A Swede Talks movies. He knows some people who were involved with the production and wrote a lovely, enthusiastic post after attending a private screening for the crew.
Everything would be so much easier if I just joined the crowd and wrote well put little celebration. But I can’t and once again I curse my refusal to pull a white lie when needed.
So here I am, wrestling my hands, trying to find a nice way to say that I’m not that much into it.
Not dark enough
There’s no doubt that Gabriela Pichler has talent for this. For a debut film, it’s more than OK. I’ve seen people comparing it to works by the Dardenne brothers and Winter’s Bone because of the kind of people it portrays and because of its naturalistic style, reminding of a documentary.
But Eat Sleep Die lacks something to really grab me. It’s not dark enough, not sad enough, not upsetting enough. For sure, it was a good thing that this girl Raša was looking for a job to support herself and her father, but I wouldn’t really call her situation desperate in the way it is in Winter’s Bone. I had a vague feeling that I was supposed to feel much more sorry for her than I really did, possibly because of political reasons. I imagined it would have been easier to embrace it if I had been more to the left than I am in my views. As it was now, I was void of emotions, slightly bored and caught myself checking the watch more than once.
Again: I feel bad about my lukewarm feelings. If it wasn’t for the fact that I watched the film in company with a bunch of other Swedish movie bloggers, I probably wouldn’t have written anything about it. It’s the same as if you’re the only one who is giving a movie a bad rating at Rotten Tomatoes: you really want to have good arguments to back you up. And I don’t. I just don’t like it particularly much, a view which it seems as if I’m more or less alone about in Sweden.
So this is where this post halts. I admit there isn’t much substance in it, but then I was reluctant to write it in the first place.
Eat Sleep Die (Äta Sova Dö, Gabriela Pichler, Swe 2012) My rating: 3/5
My fellow bloggers in Filmspanarna are hopefully more enthusiastic about it.
Here are their thoughts (in Swedish):