Stunning Tuva Novotny
Roughly ten years ago something special began growing roots in the northern states of Europe. While Hollywood was busy mass-producing wannabe mega blockbusters and contemplated how to expand their ever so amusing arsenal of mind-numbing CGI hocus-pocus a small group of Danish filmmakers decided to go the opposite way. Relying only on basic filming equipment and following a strict set of rules they created a movement that proved to be as controversial as it was innovative-Dogme.
At the beginning no one took seriously the leader of the movement, filmmaker Lars von Trier, and his eccentric behavior. His often controversial statements did not really help either though they attracted the media which consequently did some sporadic bits of coverage on the Dogme series.
It wasn't until 1998 and Thomas Vintenberg's highly original project Festen a.k.a The Celebration which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival when things began to change for Scandinavian filmmakers. All of a sudden the focus of European media shifted dramatically and the Nordic directors and their films finally began receiving the long-overdue coverage.
Fast-forward to 2005 and everything looks quite different nowadays. While Denmark is certainly the undisputed leader on the Scandinavian film market other countries have boldly followed up. With the Danes capitalizing on highly engaging social dramas (Susanne Bier's Open Hearts, Ole Madsen's Kira's Reason: A Love Story, Per Fly's Arven, Paprika Steen's Aftermath) and off-beat action features (Anders Jensen's The Green Butchers, Lasse Olsen's In China They Eat Dogs, Jasper Nielse's Manden Bag Doren a.k.a The Bouncer) the rather unexplored teenage genre seemed to be getting more attention by their neighbors- Norway's Uno directed by Aksel Hennie, the highly anticipated Finnish film Paha Maa a.k.a Frozen Land by Aku Louhimies, the rather serious Icelandic feature 101 Reykjyavik directed by Baltasar Kormakur. In Sweden the teenage genre appeared even more lucrative for local filmmakers as the market was flooded with excellent films- Lukas Moodysson's now notorious Fucking Amal renamed by American censors as Show Me Love, Teresa Fabik's Hip Hop Hora!, Anette Winblad's 6 Points, Mikael Hafstrom's Ondskan (Evil), Daniel Espinosa's Babylonsjukan (Babylon Disease), Henrik Georgsson's Sandor Slash Ida, and Filippa Freijd's Fjorton Suger.
Smala Susie (Slim Susie) directed by Ulf Malmros is one of the more recent additions to the teenage genre in its native Sweden. The film follows the story of Erik (Jonas Rimeika) in his desperate search to find out the whereabouts of his missing sister Susie (Tuva Novotny). A delirious mix of drugs, kinky sex, and a hefty dose of Scandinavian style off-beat action Slim Susie is a real charmer. Though the film often feels like the Swedish version of Trainspotting sprayed with a motley mix of fast action sequences resembling Lola Rennt there is plenty of originality that will impress even the most cold-hearted audiences.
Judging by the reactions of both critics and public in Sweden Slim Susie must have touched a few nerves as everyone seems to be enjoying it tremendously. There are a number of issues which the film is successfully investigating such as teen alienation, drug use, and the unique for the Swedes topic of provincial life outside the city of Stockholm. Needless to say the manner in which each of these issues is dealt with combined with the humoristic overtones of Slim Susie make this film a unique experience.
In addition to the original plot of this film I would like to point out Tuva Novotny and her excellent performance as Susie. Voted by Slitz Magazine as Sweden's sexiest woman (2002) Tuva Novotny absolutely stole the show for me as her performance as the drugged out Susie left me practically breathless and I could not stop laughing. I will definitely be keeping an eye on her future projects as obviously her potential as an actress is yet to be reached.
It is quite interesting seeing European directors explore subjects in their films that in America have been already either abused or downgraded to lousy money-makers that spur endless sequels (American Pie 2, 3). I can only begin to imagine what Slim Susie would have looked like in the hands of Hollywood directors, a mindless mish-mash of sleek chatter, a commercial soundtrack of the hippest teenage songs bombarded daily on MTV, and a happy ending finale that would leave a sour taste in the mouths of those that readily paid to see the next over-hyped teen film-sensation. Well, I could assure you that director Ulf Malmros has created a film that anything but resembles the above description. Witty, full of edgy humor, and above all intelligently put together comedy that will appeal to those searching for a real alternative to the "quality Hollywood teen film".
How Does the Disc Look?
In one word-solid. Slim Susie is one of the more impressive transfers that I have seen lately offering nicely saturated colors, excellent print, good contrast, and superblu enhanced anamorphic image. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in Swedish with optional English subtitles.
How Does the Disc Sound?
The disc offers the choice of seeing the film either with a 2.0 or 5.1 sound mixes. A good and clear soundtrack that compliments the film rather well. Very well done.
HVE offer the following extras:
-Making of Documentary
-a gallery of deleted scenes
-Original Swedish theatrical trailer
-an essay by Jan Goransson of the Swedish Film Institute (provided in the booklet)
An excellent film presented in a stellar DVD from Home Vision Entertainment, one of the few classy American distributors that dare to deliver contemporary foreign cinema to the US market with an impressive quality. I would like to specifically commend HVE for presenting the film in its OAR as the Swedish disc has been slightly clipped to 1.78:1. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.