In his singular fashion, Swedish director Andersson portrays the mix of beauty and banality that characterizes our time on earth via a series of carefully staged, near wordless short tableaux, often populated by pale, spectral figures not quite of this world. His quotidian moments, as when an old man sitting in a bar exclaims at the beauty of a snowfall outside or a group of girls dance for boys at an outdoor cafe, are countered by more startling images, like a priest’s dream of being whipped while carrying a cross through Stockholm. Though some themes and characters recur, the sequences are self-contained and share only Andersson’s observational brilliance in portraying various facets of the human condition, whether bland, joyful or profane.
Though hard to classify, Roy Andersson is a twisted taste worth acquiring. As bizarre and quirky as his set-ups may be, there is always a pang of human recognition. We know something of these characters, in all their tamped down frustrations, fear and sadness. And just when we’re beginning to feel down, Andersson introduces a moment of hope or humor to make us smile. Like the sum of our dreams, Andersson balances light and dark, life and fantasy, to reveal something important and memorable about what it means- and feels like- to be alive. But don’t think too hard, folks — just go with it!