A Serious Game

(Den allvarsamma leken)
Sweden 2016. Dir: Pernilla August. 115 min. DCP

Hjalmar Söderberg’s 1912 novel Den allvarsamma leken, often called Sweden’s greatest romance, gets an unabashedly old-school adaptation (complete with old-fashioned 1.33 aspect ratio) in this evocative, understated costume drama, the second feature directed by noted actress Pernilla August. Its early-20th-century tale of thwarted love and consuming passion has aspiring journalist Arvid (Sverrir Gudnason) and artist’s daughter Lydia (Karin Franz Körlof) falling in love upon meeting. Circumstances lead them into marriages with others, but their desire for each other persists through the years. Söderberg’s classic has twice before received Swedish screen adaptations, in 1945 and 1977. Director August played Ingmar Bergman’s mother in Bille August’s The Best Intentions and Anakin Skywalker’s mother in George Lucas’s Star Wars — Phantom Menace, and appeared in Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (also screening at The Cinematheque in December). In Swedish with English subtitles.