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In a world so sad, is it allowed to have a laugh?
This Scandinavian movie which takes place in an unnamed Swedish town is about bringing joy and laughter to people when there isn't really anything to laugh about. Jonathan (Holger Andersson) and Sam (Nils Westblom) are two joke article salesman, who have only three products: vampire teeth, a canned laughter sack and a frightening rubber mask which they try to sell to resellers. However, the duo is not successful in what they do and so are their – not so funny – products and their uncreative and repetitive sales talk. As they stumble into financial trouble their friendship and business project is about to collapse.
This loose and rather sad story is patched with more absurd incidences. A longer scene takes place in a bar when the young Swedish King Charles XII (1682 - 1718) rides in, as he guides the army to the battle against Russia. Charles asks the handsome barman to come with him to the war. Later, when the army comes home and the war is lost, Charles again visits the bar because he has to go to the toilet. These scenes are not meant to be taken literally but rather embraced as pure images decorated with strange and morbid humor. The world which director Roy Andersson paints for the viewer is drab. There are no colorful things: walls are ocher, bars are gray, the furniture is simple wooden dark brown, and even the faces of the protagonists are white. Nevertheless, the dry jokes, the black humor and the absurdity make the movie fascinating and funny, though a guilty pleasure. Is it really OK to have a laugh or – even worse! – to sell jokes in a world that is so odd, so gray, so dark and sad?
There are two scenes that may have caused uproar but I think not many people made it that far since these scene appear rather late in the film. I won't give it away; you have to find out for yourself. The things that drive common movie goers away are the incredible slow pace of the movie (think of REPULSION (1965)) and the lack of a cohesive storyline. Art seekers on the other side will find an interesting and subtle movie with strange humor that is rarely found.
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