Marriage as a battlefield
by Annika Pham
Simon Staho, the most Swedish filmmaker of Danish origin, unveiled his Heaven’s Heart [+see also:
film profile] last night as part of the Berlinale Special. The well-crafted chamber piece about marriage is played by a virtuoso quartet of top Swedish talents: Mikael Persbrandt, Lena Endre, Maria Lundqivt and Jakob Eklund.
An Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage revisited? “Certainly not!” said the young filmmaker during the post-screening Q&A session, “because [Bergman’s] film belongs to the past. Bergman is dead and you can’t be influenced by someone who’s dead. It’s like Latin, a dead language!”
Staho’s new film nevertheless follows in the pure Swedish tradition of human drama and totally lives up to it. Structured like a play, the film starts as a flashback: Lars (Persbrandt) and Susanne (Endre) are filing for divorce.
Flashback to nine months earlier: We see them happily together, preparing for a dinner party. The dinner party during which their marriage – apparently solid as a rock – and their best friend’s marriage will be shaken and put to test. All it takes to kill each couple’s false sense of security and happiness is a casual conversation about a colleague’s adulterous relationship. “What if that were me? or us?” are the questions that each partner starts to ask him or herself.
Like musicians asked by a conductor to follow their sheet music, Staho’s actors scrupulously follow the lines from his script and his storyboard. The words are cruel in all their truth, hitting each middle-age married couple right in the heart. The violence of the emotions is enhanced by the interiors – with almost no furniture and set design – and the music (single, classic instruments) stripped to the bare essentials.
The film was produced by Zentropa’s Swedish production arm Trollhättan Film AB, in co-production with Sonet Film, XX Film, Film i Väst, Pan Vision AB, SVT with support from the Swedish Film Institute.
Worldwide distribution is handled by Trust Film Sales. The film will open in Sweden on February 28.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.