Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Starting out like an action flick, a leather-clad woman, Lova, (Eva Rose) runs from skinheads - all dressed in black, so you know they’re sinister - through a dismal warehouse, periodically fighting them off with chains and martial arts moves. Lova possesses a box they want, especially their unnamed leader (Jonas Karlsson). He is distinguished from the other goons by his stylish suit and the ability to grow hair on his head.
Lova gives the box to another young woman, credited only as The Assistant (Lina Englund), with the words, "We are the only ones left." The Assistant makes a successful getaway. When Lova is captured and doused with gasoline to be burned alive, it’s easy to make the connection: the bad guys are from hell and Lova must be a force from heaven. The resourceful woman escapes her own barbecue and takes to the streets on foot.
Donny (Eric Ericson), a freelance journalist in Stockholm is a loner, not particularly warm or likeable, and loaded with palpable unease, even down to his drab, ill-fitting clothes. Lova seeks temporary shelter from her pursuers in his cab. Later, after she's paid a visit to Donny's apartment, the thugs break in and ransack the place looking for the box. Donny however, is not home, but out receiving the box from The Assistant in what appears to be a huge video game room with mazes of computers glowing in dim light. The young woman falls dead from a well-placed metal projectile to the throat after the box transfer and Donny is photographed at the scene.
Lova’s insertion into Donny’s life leads him on a constantly dangerous trail where he becomes wanted by police for a murder he didn't commit while being chased by thugs who are relentless in their quest for the box. He mysteriously finds himself in the rural town where he grew up, forced to face a past that includes a rape, a cruel practical joke and fearful, complicit behavior which leads to a tragedy. Here’s where the film begins to play with time and space, mind games, dreams, and occasional reality.
Donny can’t feel pain. His absence of sensation has been a type of cocoon for him until now. The box changes all that with it’s Karma-inducing pull back to the wounds of the past or as Lova says “back to the very beginning of everything.” Whether that means the creation of the universe, the Garden of Eden, or Donny’s own origin of epiphany is left up to the viewer, like the numbered doors on Let’s Make a Deal.
The good vs. evil battle for Donny’s soul between the fire-obsessed man in a suit and the righteous warrior that is Lova continues, with the man telling Donny to forget all he's seen, and Lova wanting to help Donny face himself and the three childhood memories of his own questionable behavior for which he feels so guilty.
Space and time become game pieces along with a graphic novel entitled Storm that briefly illuminates some of Donny’s adventures past and present. This premise could have delivered if there had just been a clearer logical framework. Here we have a leisurely stroll punctuated by violence or dreamlike, slow-moving memory, but no satisfying payoff.
Was Donny always the intended target of this lesson or is it a random box, shifting contents for anyone who might temporarily possess it? What is the connection between the gaming room where Donny receives the box and the subsequent surreal events that take place? How about the significance of the graphic novel, Storm, which he finds in his childhood room and reads to find clues to his present predicament? Has Donny been hallucinating all along? Past, present and fantasy mix until a conclusion is reached, but we still don’t understand how or why.
Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, have created a multi-layered plot full of twists, where action, drama, computer games, dream states and reality meet and mesh uneasily and, frequently, incomprehensibly.
Eric Ericson makes Donny believable as both a callous jerk and tortured, guilt-infused penitent who has to confront his past. Eva Rose is single-minded in her character’s quest to redeem a mortal soul, to the point of being only marginally real, more like a heroine in a video game. Jonas Karlsson’s resemblance to Dweezil Zappa detracts from any real menace he might command, even with the requisite scar on his face. Sweden, as a landscape, looks forbidding and dismal, a damp, grey map of despair.
Storm won the audience award at the Stockholm Film Festival. Like the Scandinavian penchant for herring, crayfish and blood pudding, it must be an acquired taste.
In Swedish, with English subtitles.