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Eirik Svensson • Director

"Working differently: a serious game"


- Eirik Svensson, whose first feature film, Must Have Been Love has just come out, belongs to a brand new generation of Norwegian directors

Eirik Svensson  • Director

Revealed by Fredag, one of his short movies, Eirik Svensson, whose first feature film, Must Have Been Love [+see also:
film profile
has just come out, belongs to a brand new generation of Norwegian directors.

In the title roles of Must Have Been Love, we find Finnish actress Pamela Tola and Norwegian actor Espen Klouman Høiner. Why did you choose them?
Eirik Svensson:
At the Lillehammer Institute of Cinema, where I studied, I already considered working with them. Enthusiasm and motivation were evident among the team throughout the entire creation and development process. It was a serious game for us: we really wanted to find a way of working differently.  

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Usually, as you know, people write a screenplay, dialogues, a very precise text that is supposed to be followed, sometimes to the letter. I had, of course, worked beforehand to establish an outline with my co-writer, Jyrki Väisänen, but most of the time I let the actors improvise as they wished so they could find out on their own the way in which their characters expressed themselves. Authenticity and sincerity are amongst my main concerns. Repetitions and hesitations were unavoidable, just as in real life. It was a risk I chose to take, and I think that this work method, often inadvisable for a first film, worked for me. Then, during the editing, I was able to make sense of it all with the editor, Karsten Meinich.

Did you ever surprise your actors?

Yes, I remember a scene in which, at my request, two little dancers came to give Pamela a kiss without giving her any warning. She became so emotional that she started to cry: we kept this sequence during the editing. On several occasions, Martin Solvang, the chief cinematographer with whom I am used to working, let things take their own course, which gave some good results.

Are you a very demanding director?

Ambitious, rather. I try to be as generous and warm as I can, to make sure that there is always a good atmosphere when we are filming. This does not keep me from being focused and serious.

Your characters speak English.

They do indeed, because it is the language used by Norwegians and Finns when they meet: it is their natural way of communicating.

Must Have Been Love is a love story.

Not solely. It is also a movie about loneliness, the difficulties we encounter when trying to find our balance after being uprooted, frustrated. It is a film about the doubts that we often experience during a love encounter, even when it shows promise.

Istanbul, Oslo, Helsinki, Berlin, several filming locations.

It was aimed at emphasizing the theme of being uprootied, not belonging to the surroundings, the gradual discovery of rituals, codes providing access, of which we are not initially aware. I wanted Kaisa and Jakob’s encounter to be on a somewhat neutral ground.

A film about memory?

My film does indeed contain some nostalgic elements, its share of mystery, just like the desire to make a movie is mysterious, the compelling urge to arrange its elements in one way or the other. I am fascinated by David Lynch and his way of making films.

A double role for E. K. Høiner…

Yes, and in that, without wanting to make any comparisons of course, there are some similarities with Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock.

Ambiguities, deceiving faces, you want to destabilize the spectator?

That is partly true, but I would like him to go further in thinking about and interpreting what is proposed. The spectator should not remain passive, allowing himself to be fed images, and remaining at the stage of vague impressions. 

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