House of Angels Review

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This contemporary, comedic tale of the land is a refreshingly feel-good slant on the Swedish, viewed with an obvious affection for Scandinavian foibles and an unmistakably British irony by English writer-director Colin Nutley.

In a set-up that cries Bjorn De Florette, Axel (Wollter), a greedy farmer covets an elderly neighbour's property. But when the old man dies in a bizarre accident, Axel gets a nasty jolt with the sudden appearance of a hitherto unknown heir, Fanny (Bergstrom), a spirited cabaret artiste determined to make a go of her new rural life with her leather-clad companion Zac (Wolff).

The sanctimonious villagers resent her presence, of course, and do their darnedest to drive her off. Nutley's achievement is in finding a delicate balance between satire and sentiment. For all their gossiping, bigotry and hypocrisy, the country people are presented as basically decent people, while warm, open Fanny reveals a stubborn, wicked streak in her novel approach to fighting back at them.

It's all about understanding and tolerance, of course, nicely worked up through misunderstandings and confrontations that escalate from amusing bitchiness to the genuinely alarming. There is, too, a great deal of charm in the ensemble playing, with the elderly Ernst Gunther and Tord Petterson stealing the heart as the reclusive neighbours on whom Fanny casts her spell. For a change of pace from the more familiarly angst-ridden Swedish fare about Life and Death this comes as surprising delight.