Fifteen year-old Pär and fourteen year-old Annika fall in love…
Summer with Annika: A Swedish Love Story (1970)
Jean A. Gili
Author of very few works – four films in thirty-seven years, including Songs from the Second Floor (2000) and You, the Living (2007) – Roy Andersson made his first film in 1970, a tale of adolescent love set against the backdrop of a cruel tableau of the petite bourgeoisie wedged between conformity and frustration. Rediscovered now, A Swedish Love Story (En Kärlekshistoria) shows the inauguration of a critical gaze that has never deviated from its just distance.
Fifteen year-old Pär (Rolf Sohlman) and fourteen year-old Annika (Ann-Sofie Kylin) fall in love: around them swirl parents, friends, rivals – a series of microcosms which evoke a society apparently permissive, but secretly in tatters. According to a type of approach which the filmmaker will systematise in his subsequent works, the film proceeds in large, almost autonomous sequence-blocks, beginning with a visit involving the families of both adolescents to their close relations in a nursing home (this is, in fact, where the youths first meet), and ending with a party in a country estate where Annika’s parents are received by Pär’s family.
As in a stage play, the red curtain rises: the film can start. The first sequence sets out the décor, after a prologue where we hear that girls are partial to aggressive boys … However, the protagonists are fragile creatures who discover their amorous attraction via a simple exchange of looks – a furtive moment which the camera captures on the fly. Awkward and sensitive, these two youths, at the border between childhood and adolescence, give themselves an aura of freedom by going to discos, cigarettes between their lips. Happily, their ingenuousness does not lead to anything too terrible; exposed to the mocking gaze of adults, they manage to preserve the delicacy of their feelings and the justice of their attitudes.
The filmmaker observes his pre-adolescents like creatures still in a state of innocence, before maturity catches up and leads them to the mediocrity of adults. Pär, at one point humiliated by a bigger lad who repeatedly slaps him, takes refuge in solitude, and then gives in once more to the attraction he feels for Annika – a very young girl who wears her miniskirt with unforced impudence. Andersson captures the furtive gestures that express love, such as when the boy walks, pushing his motorbike, while the girl follows him, her hand delicately laid on the back saddle.
Subtitles: Film : English Swedish – Danish – Norvegian – Finnish / Commentary (english and swedish)