Amazing Women by the Sea
Put on your sepia-colored glasses and enjoy the bittersweet Scandinavian ethos that remains Minnesota's cultural common denominator. A modest story of two Swedish women's burgeoning friendship over three summers spent in the Finnish isles, this 1998 film by Claes Olsson is actually a subtle sort of ensemble piece in which the women, their husbands, and their children are given sufficient room to wiggle about and reveal just how complicated competing roles and relationships can be. Both Bella and Rosa are free-spirited young mothers who are beginning to feel the constraints of family life--Rosa because her husband, though charming, is a repeat philanderer, and Bella because her solid mate is a bit of a bore. Bella's short fling with Rosa's Gabbe is somewhat predictable, but the way their friendship changes as a result is anything but. The children are granted a rare degree of emotional range and depth of character here, particularly Bella's son Thomas, whose voiceover narration begins and ends the film. Not surprisingly, it's the kids who seem to bear the brunt of painful family decisions, but they're neither infantilized nor valorized in the process. In other words, this is the kind of movie that Hollywood rarely delivers--and precisely the stuff of a strong film festival. (Shannon McLachlan) Bell Auditorium, Wednesday, April 21 at 7:15 p.m.