film note: Lucky Blue

These birds can sing

Lucky Blue
Directed by Håkon Liu
Sweden, 2007

I’m not sure how many times I’ve watched this little film — enough that it would be embarrassing to count — but I do find it comforting to a degree disproportionate perhaps to its artistic accomplishments, although those aren’t meager.

It might be because young Tobias Bengtsson as Olle, the sensitive and shy main character, looks like the first love of my life. Related to that sense of teary nostalgia, it also has to do with the film’s unabashed, cornball sentimentality, expressed by the karaoke event, and a specifically awkward yet weighty performance of a particularly corny song, that structures everything else that happens over the course of a few days in a summer camp in Sweden, and also by the eponymous parakeet that escapes but finds her way back at just the right moment. The corniness is mitigated considerably by the expressive, dreamy cinematography by Sophia Olsson and the understated performances directed by Håkon Liu. I’m not afraid to call those performances, the mise-en-scène and milieu, authentic, either.

When Olle cries over how’s he’s feeling for Kevin, the New Kid In Town, and how it’s feeling like he’s been punched in the gut and kind of for no reason at all really and before I even realized he was crying, it allows me to remember what a mess one’s teenage emotions can make of things that really are pretty simple, and how at some points, and not just low points, I still feel like a teenager, especially when I’m moved to helplessness by love, or lust.

When the two boys, who will eventually be lovers, we know, but off-screen and a little ways past the film’s 28-minute time limit, when they fumble with electric cables and end up turning on all the lights on the karaoke stage— that’s the film’s clearest moment, its most expressive and its least nostalgic.

Kevin says, Did we do that? and Olle replies, Yeah.

Not to say that’s it’s a big deal but to say: what else did you expect, when we get together?

Summary
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Lucky Blue
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