In a series of droll vignettes, a pair of clueless salesmen (Westblom and Andersson) hawk novelty joke items with no luck, and return to a drab men’s shelter at night only to repeat the effort the next day. An unknown man dies on line to buy lunch and the saleswoman worries what to do with the paid for food. In a modern day bar, King Charles XII of Sweden (Gyllenberg) anachronistically drops in for a mineral water on his way to and from battle.
The final film in Andersson’s “living” trilogy is a master class in deadpan comedy. The meticulous scene composition draws on classical paintings (the title itself is inspired by a Bruegel work), and director Andersson constructs tableaux vivants with his actors in theatrical whiteface to heighten the sense of artifice. A lack of plot serves to emphasize life’s randomness, and the salesmen, reminiscent of a Samuel Beckett play, provide a leitmotif of inaction and repetition. Winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, this unique meditation on life’s absurdities would be sad if it weren’t so funny.