Nordling Is Stunned By The Power Of MARIANNE!
Full disclosure - Filip Tegstedt, the director of MARIANNE, is a friend of AICN and has been for a few years now. He's from Sweden, and he's been to several BNATs. One of the things I remember most about him was that he handed out copies of the book LET THE RIGHT ONE IN before anyone - anyone - knew anything about it Stateside. When the film came out a couple of years later, he seemed very much ahead of the curve. One of my favorite things about Butt-Numb-A-Thon is how it brings people from across the planet to Austin just to celebrate the joy of movies. I'd like to think BNAT inspired Filip to throw his hand in the ring and make his own film, and I'm sure he'd say that it definitely played a role.
My issue with MARIANNE was this - since Filip's a good friend, I was hesitant to review his film. If I didn't like it, I was afraid that anything I wrote would affect him poorly. And if I liked it, it would be considered just favoritism. There's nothing I can do about people's perceptions, so I'm not going to even try. But I told Filip that I didn't feel comfortable reviewing the film until it got festival play. So I waited, hoping that would happen, and sure enough, MARIANNE got chosen to play at Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. And it did extremely well, getting rave reviews from Badass Digest, Twitchfilm, and FEARnet. So when I sat down to it today, I was concerned about what I was going to see, but felt better about reviewing it because it's been out there, playing festivals, and I was worried that I wouldn't find that balance, or that I would be overly critical.
I shouldn't have worried, because from the opening scene, MARIANNE had me hooked. It's a powerful film about a family devastated by loss, about a father who isn't very good at being one, a daughter who despises the man her father has become, and a terrible tragedy that sets off the supernatural events that put the story into motion.
Krister (Thomas Hedengran) is a man tormented by nightmares. His wife Eva (Tintin Anderzon) recently died in a tragic car accident, leaving himself, their newborn daughter Linnea, and their teenage daughter Sandra (Sandra Larsson) to pick up the pieces. Krister, a schoolteacher by day, is a silent, stoic man, but he has guilt in spades - he's never done right by his family, and it seems that his mistress Marianne (Viktoria Sätter) was responsible for the death of Linnea and Sandra's mother. His daughter didn't care much for her father and his infidelities when she was younger, and she outright hates him now. Her boyfriend Stiff (Dylan Johansson) seems to be friendly towards Krister, but Sandra's with him mostly to make her father angry - he's several years older than her. When Sandra drops out of school to move in with Stiff, this leaves Krister alone in the house with his baby daughter.
But for Krister, at night is when the demons truly come. Krister hears footsteps, and the grinding of teeth, and he is cursed with visions of a red-haired woman in a green dress, and his guilt overwhelms him. His therapist, Sven (Peter Stormare) is convinced it's sleep paralysis, and that Krister's problem lies in stress and his recent loss. But Stiff, an amateur ghost hunter, suggests something more sinister is at work - a supernatural creature called the Mare, which seems to be haunting Krister alone. As Krister tries to mend his broken relationship with his daughter, the Mare stalks his nights to the point that steps must be taken, to stop whatever it is that seems to want to hurt Krister and his family. Or it may be that the tragic events are driving Krister insane, and that his loved ones are helpless to stop his descent. It's to Tegstedt's credit as a director that he doesn't overplay his hand one way or the other - whether or not the Mare is real is almost incidental to the guilt that is slowly destroying Krister.
It's a careful line that MARIANNE walks - keeping the domestic story interesting while slowly introducing the element of the supernatural into the narrative, but Tegstedt does it with such skill that it's amazing that this is his first feature-length film. It wouldn't work if the performances weren't so good, but Thomas Hendengran plays Krister as truly regretful for the life that he's led, which makes him sympathetic, and at the same time Sandra's hatred for him feels justified. Even before his wife's death he was living a lie, cheating on her unrepentantly with Marianne, but still loving his family. Sandra Larsson goes beyond the goth chick stereotype to find the wounded little girl underneath - ever since the day she caught her father on a phone call with his mistress at a picnic she has been wary of letting this man get too close to her, but despite herself she needs him in her life. The emotion of MARIANNE lies in its depiction of the relationships, and they feel truthful and real. It is vitally important that this aspect of the story work, or the supernatural side of the film wouldn't be nearly as effective.
While there are very few moments of outright gore in MARIANNE, what Tegstedt has done is evoke genuine unease, which in its way is much more difficult to pull off. The sound work comes into play heavily here; we don't see what is haunting Krister, but we hear it - teeth grinding, high-heeled footsteps slowly coming closer, and MARIANNE builds tension so well that we begin to feel genuine fear for the characters. It's been a while since a horror film so affected me. Most recent horror films treat their characters as meat for the grinder, but we come to love Krister for all his flaws, and Sandra for all of hers, and we become afraid for them as events unfold and more tragedy strikes. And through it all, we see in flashback the events that lead up to the deadly car crash that killed Krister's wife, and while Krister is likable, we never forget that his actions brought him to the state that he is in.
MARIANNE was made for a very low budget, but what the film lacks for so-called "money shots" it makes up for in building real dread and tension. There are moments of shock scares, but there aren't any cats jumping on the bed in MARIANNE - those moments are few and done for maximum effect, propelling the story forward. I'm still finding it hard to believe that this is Filip Tegstedt's first film - it's made with such confidence in its story and such skill with the actors and the script that I almost feel like Filip's been putting one over on me. MARIANNE will be playing the Edmonton International Film Festival on Sunday, September 25th, and it's making the festival rounds, so it's quite possible that it could be playing in your area soon. It's one of the finest ghost stories I've seen, and a hell of a debut for Filip Tegstedt. I hope this is only the beginning of his film career, because originality should be celebrated, and cherished, and allowed to bloom.
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Sept. 3, 2011, 9:14 p.m. CST
Sept. 3, 2011, 9:19 p.m. CST
by Papa CaveDweller
Sept. 3, 2011, 9:22 p.m. CST
Sept. 3, 2011, 9:23 p.m. CST
by Quake II
There's only one thing I want to know about Marianne.... Is there a skeleton girl with purple hair in this movie? If not, that poster is false advertising.
Sept. 3, 2011, 9:33 p.m. CST
And I LOVE the Dario Argento-esque poster...
Sept. 3, 2011, 9:37 p.m. CST
No, but seriously, congratulations to Filip. This must be very exciting for him and it's always nice when fresh talent gets a break to showcase what they can do. It's also amazingly wonderful when a friend who wants your honest opinion bails you out by being totally awesome, isn't it Nordling? I had the same experience with a friend who wanted my honest opinion about his skills as a sideline reporter for a sports team... I was terrified I'd have to be honest that he sucked, but he ended up being great at it, so it worked out very well.
Sept. 3, 2011, 10:04 p.m. CST
Horticultural experts are never shunned here.
Sept. 3, 2011, 10:10 p.m. CST
Remember when the trailers were trotted out as the TBs cried 'blech'? http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/apollo_18/
Sept. 3, 2011, 10:28 p.m. CST
saw a rough version of this with Filip and a handful of other BNATters a few days after last year's BNAT in the rec room of a hostel in Austin... if the movie becomes successful, i can tell my grandkids about this :D
Sept. 3, 2011, 11:46 p.m. CST
But don't be surprised if you get MELANCHOLIA afterwards.
Sept. 4, 2011, 1:15 a.m. CST
It reminds me of Argento at his height. Looking forward to checking this out
Sept. 4, 2011, 2 a.m. CST
I would see this movie based on the poster art alone. Delightfully '70s in its color, style, composition, and title font. Beautiful and artful and so nice not to see more photoshopped publicity photos.
Sept. 4, 2011, 2:18 a.m. CST
Sept. 4, 2011, 2:20 a.m. CST
Sleep paralysis and old hag syndrome are pretty scary subjects. And Peter Stormare is an asset to any film. I suspect that trailer isn't doing the film any favors, though.
Sept. 4, 2011, 2:33 a.m. CST
and if so is it any good?
Sept. 4, 2011, 2:34 a.m. CST
Sept. 4, 2011, 2:46 a.m. CST
IF YOU ASK HARRY "FAT FUCK SELLOUT" KNOWLES WHO WON'T EVEN REVIEW PLANET OF THE APES BECAUSE HE DIDN'T LIKE HOW IT DIDN'T HAVE ANY ACTION FIGURES TO COMMENT ON
Sept. 4, 2011, 3:31 a.m. CST
Sept. 4, 2011, 5:19 a.m. CST
Sept. 4, 2011, 8:10 a.m. CST
can't wait to see it.
Sept. 4, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST
But I don't care: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-r_Ja6RTVQ God Dammit George
Sept. 4, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST
by Gabe Athouse
...where they try to make it seem to Xenophobic, provincial American audiences that the film doesn't have subtitles by not showing anyone speaking. Those are always depressing, not only for what it says about my country of origin, but because it invariably doesn't divulge much about the film. At least it didn't have the overbearing "In a world..." narrator stressing what have been determined to be the most marketable elements of the plot. A suspect glowing review from this site doesn't help me determine whether this is worth seeking out. The 80s VHS box poster is intriguing, however.
Sept. 4, 2011, 10:39 a.m. CST
Sept. 4, 2011, 11:37 a.m. CST
Are you sure you didn't mean "try his hat at filmmaking"?
Sept. 4, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST
Ya. What can I say. I love Tori Amos.
Sept. 4, 2011, 5:34 p.m. CST
by A G
Honestly! The poster rocks though. Kudos.
Sept. 4, 2011, 6:11 p.m. CST
Looks good to me. Good for you Filip. Dont be discouraged by mouth-breathing trolls like bob_orcis_spellchecker. They piss on everyone's parade.
Sept. 4, 2011, 8:13 p.m. CST
while trying to defend his family from the 'evil' ghost. I suspect the conclusion comes to be after 'Stiff' (in on it from the beginning) goads Krister with tales of dead children and unexplained mass murders blah blah blah?
Sept. 4, 2011, 8:29 p.m. CST
by Bob Loblaw Law Blog
He's a great guy. I hope he gets a distribution deal for this so he can have some cash to make more films!
Sept. 4, 2011, 10:55 p.m. CST
FUCK YES GREAT SONG
Sept. 5, 2011, 1:48 a.m. CST
by Queefer Sutherland
...I'd say that must be one of the most inaccurate movie posters I've ever seen. Is there even anything like this in the movie? A purple haired skeleton woman thing? Are you fucking kidding me?
Sept. 5, 2011, 7:35 p.m. CST
is a filthy rich dude. he blows his nose with $100 bills, burps $100 bills, and sneezes up about a rack. he's the better looking version of oprah. George's beard is amazing. it's perfect and wavy. he's wealthy and extremely handsome. george walks on water for fun. star wars i, ii, iii, iv, v, and vi are thee greatest movies, religion ever. james cameron is the poor man's george lucas. Jedi illuminati
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