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The Slingshot Review

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Roland linves in Stockholm in the 1930's where his mother illegally sells condoms. Roland makes money by turning them into slingshots and selling them. He is punished by teahe

★★★★

For young Roland Schutt (Salen) growing up in 1920s Stockholm would be hard enough, but he has a few extra burdens. His Socialist father (Skarksgard) is a morphine addict crippled with sciatica. His Jewish mother (Frydman) sells condoms on the black market. His brother (Niclas Olund) wants to be a boxer and enjoys practising on him, and his teacher (Ernst-Hugo Jaregard) is a bigot who can't decide who he hates the most - Jews or Bolsheviks. On top of all that, Roland's talent for inventing things, which include The Condom Slingshot, just seems to add to his troubles.

Based on the memoirs of a 90-year-old inventor, Ake Sandgren's episodic tale about the trials and tribulations of childhood is lightened by a wry wit and the conviction that children are not victims, but the survivors of their circumstance.

Never cute or pitiable, Salen's Roland is a believable mix of confusion, resilience and ingenuity; the vividly drawn cast of supporting players are endearingly quirky; and the grubby-fingered childhood world they inhabit - of pet toads, rusty bikes, broken noses and knickerless girls who will let you tie their shoelaces for sixpence - manages to be at once brutally honest and lovingly nostalgiac.

The Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, The Slingshot may be yet another foreign language tale dealing with the well worn themes of childhood memories and the rites of passage (Cinema Paradiso et al), but, like Fanny And Alexander and Lasse Halstrom's My Life As A Dog, this is also more proof that the coming-of-age drama is one of the things that the Swedish do best.

Excellent Swedish film