Involuntary [De Ofrivilliga] Movie Review

Five unconnected stories are shot and intercut to draw out common thematic threads in this clever, artistic exploration of peer pressure. It feels a little random and scattershot, but watching it is a deeply haunting experience.

It's late-spring in Sweden and passions are running high. Villmar (Bjorkman) has a fireworks show after dinner without taking the best safety precautions.

Teens Linnea and Sara (Cart-Lamy and Eriksson) party with their friends, even though they have no tolerance for alcohol. On a weekend away with old pals, Olle and Leif (Liljas and Edlund) find that things go a little too far. Cecilia (Milocco) wonders what to do when she sees a fellow teacher (Lundstedt) hit a student. And bus driver Henrik (Vikman) refuses to go any further until someone confesses to vandalism.

In each of these cases, the group mentality has a major effect on the moral repercussions. Sometimes this is positive or even curative, but other scenes involve ostracism and physical danger. Thankfully, the filmmakers resist the temptation to preach at us, instead just showing is the events and letting us draw any conclusions there might be. And while this is a bit cool, it's also deeply challenging.

The filmmaking style echoes this objective approach, as scenes are photographed in static, long takes that refuse to let us see everyone or everything involved. Key elements are obscured by distance, lighting or simply due to people facing the wrong way, which forces us to internalise the dialog and sometimes to imagine that we see what's happening. The performances take a similar slant, as the cast members bounce off each other with realistic awkwardness, including scenes that are pointed, tender and funny.

Along the way, tiny dramas emerge on every side, and we are forced to actively participate in each person's internal struggle. Yes, this is a "what would you do?" sort of movie, and its aloof style makes it feel overlong and rather unsettling. But it vividly depicts how each moral decision carries a consequence. Finding the strength to stand up for what's right isn't always easy. And it doesn't always make things better.

Cast & Crew

Director : Ruben Ostlund

Producer : Erik Hemmendorff

Starring : , , , Sara Eriksson, Olle Liljas, Leif Edlund, Henrik Vikman, Maria Lundqvist


Comments

Involuntary [De Ofrivilliga] Rating

" Good "

Rating: 15, 2008

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