Swedish Film Review: Amanda Kernell’s ‘CHARTER’

Swedish film ‘Charter’ hit the entertainment news this week as it has been declared as Sweden’s entry to the Oscar’s International Movie selection, and showcased at the recent Nordic Film Days Lübeck in Germany.

The movie is directed by Amanda Kernell, who had success with her previous feature ‘Sami Blood‘, receiving lots of recognition and awards, including at the Venice Film festival and the Dragon Award for best Nordic Film at Gothenburg Film Festival in 2017.

Despite being released in Sweden at a challenging time as the world battles the ongoing pandemic, it is great to see the movie still pick up some serious momentum. It was also selected for the Nordic Council Film Prize where it just lost out to the equally popular Barn/Beware the Children from Norway.

Charter is a brilliant piece of cinema, showing that Amanda Kernell continues to be one to watch. As soon as the film fades to its final scene you can understand why this piece was put forward for Oscar contention.

Key to its impact is the performances by the cast, specifically lead character Ane Dahl Torp. Ane’s performance as Alice is one that in itself should be considered Oscar worthy. Playing a mother desperate to see her children during a messy divorce that has led to a custody battle, the turmoil and anxiety she’s experiencing is felt with every expression and movement she makes. The distance between her and her children has grown physically and emotionally, and she just wants them to know the truth and that she does love them.

In a bid to protect her children from their father, who she believes may be harming them, and to prove to them that she isn’t the bad mother they think she is, she decides to run away with them and take them on a break to Tenerife. A popular destination for Swedes, who refer to it as a ‘charter’ holiday, where families go to make happy memories and reconnect. Can the heat thaw the frosty feelings between the mother and her children?

Ane Dahl Torp plays mother Alice

Despite being Norwegian, Ane Dahl Torp speaks fluent Swedish, and Amanda Kernell cast her for her ‘rock star quality’ that makes her character frenetic and difficult to judge as the film unravels. She’s vulnerable and broken one minute, yet fierce and determined the next. Is she the cool loving mother protecting her children, or is she as crazy and dangerous as her ex husband seems to have everyone believe?

Another reason Ane is so perfect for the role is how well she portrays the depth and breadth of emotions her character is experiencing. You are able to read her face in many moments of tenderness, fear, strength, weakness, or joy. It sticks with you.

Charter was described by director Amanda as ‘a love letter to all divorced parents’ and deals with the struggles and conflicts experienced by two people who once passionately loved one another and are now locked in a destructive cycle and battle of discrediting each other and being seen as the ‘better’ parent. All Alice seems to want to prove to them is that she does love them, despite leaving them when her relationship was at breaking point.

Alice obviously struggled with the pressure to balance the priorities and responsibilities of parenthood, with protecting her own sanity and dignity while trapped in a toxic relationship and needing to escape. And as with many divorces, it’s the kids who get stuck in the middle and become the victims and vehicles of manipulation.

Does Alice reconnect with her children? The ending is bitter sweet – but we urge you to watch it and take this journey that many of us can surely relate to in one way or another.

Charter’s release in the UK is still yet to confirmed – we hope it does get a release here or at at the very least will be accessible via some of the one of the online platforms such a MUBI, Curzon, or Amazon. What we do know is that in February a decision will be made about who will enter the final leg of the Oscar race! Our fingers are tightly crossed for Charter.

Interview by Alex Minnis

Written in Association with Nordische Filmtage Lübeck

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