Sunday, March 07, 2010

As it Is in Heaven: Grade B

As it Is in Heaven (2005)
Michael Nyqvist, Frida Hallgren; Director Kay Pollack. (Swedish, subtitled)

An internationally famous conductor (Nyqvist) suffers a mild heart attack and decides to retire. He returns to his childhood home, a small village in Sweden, where he soon is the local church’s musical director and conductor of the small choir. He works with the townspeople to bring out each person’s “natural inner voice” and before you know it, they sound beautiful, and have formed an emotionally tight community.

The choir's sound, obviously dubbed by professional singers, is too good to be believed, but the music is quite nice. The conductor develops a special relationship with one of the singers (Hallgren), who cautiously falls for him. Meanwhile, the preacher, an uptight, bible-thumping caricature, is shocked by all the “free-spirited” self expression, resentful of being displaced as the center of attention, and suspicious of his wife hanging out with the new conductor. He accuses the conductor of untoward behavior and eventually dismisses him, right before the choir is supposed to perform in a competition in Austria. This could have been a basketball movie with the same plot – coach is removed right before the state playoffs, but the ragtag team goes on without him… you can guess the rest.

The story is highly stereotyped and predictable, but the acting is excellent, and the sets, scenes and costumes are perfect. The actors are ordinary looking people, not the plastic Hollywood glamour standard, which made them all the more believable. Despite the film’s sentimentality and predictability, the acting, directing, and sense of time, place, and person are so completely authentic that you can’t look away.

No comments:

Post a Comment