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Review: Inland


- Jon Blåhed’s new feature is an intriguing Swedish study of a metropolitan migrant starting anew in the middle of nowhere

Review: Inland
Irma von Platen in Inland

Sweden, at least by European standards, is fairly impressive in length, with a distance of about 2,000 km from its northern- to its southernmost point (from which the same distance would get you down to Naples in Italy). It’s safe to say, then, that many Swedes know little of many areas in their own country, let alone have ever set foot there. An intimate study of this very predicament is presented in Inland [+see also:
interview: Jon Blåhed
film profile
, Jon Blåhed’s intriguing debut feature-length fiction film, world-premiering in the Nordic Lights section of the 2020 Göteborg Film Festival.

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Based on an acclaimed 2018 novel by Elin Willows, Inland starts off in Stockholm, where a twenty-something couple is about to head off for the next stage of their relationship – namely, to his childhood hometown near the Arctic Circle, in the far, cold and sparsely populated north of Sweden. As fickle fate would have it, irreconcilable differences arise on the drive up there, and when the two arrive, they have already broken up.

Since the Stockholm-born-and-bred girl (a delicately understated performance by Irma von Platen) has left pretty much everything behind her, she haplessly sets out to build a new existence in what looks very much like the middle of nowhere. She finds a room for rent and a job at the main supermarket in no time – unlike in Stockholm, competition here is scant. There are other differences as well, such as the robust, down-to-earth natives (zestfully played by, among others, Eva Melander and Ann Petrén), unmindful of urban fads and flavours, but occasionally slightly bigoted, and at one with their inherited icy soil. The metropolitan migrant is received as one of their kind: they help her out with furniture, take her along to the weekend parties at the sole hotel in the area and, not least, help her to get a driver’s licence, a crucial requirement in these vast regions. An agreeable male co-worker, about the same age as the girl, also gets her a good deal on a used car.

A cushy tale of a stressed-out city slicker getting back into her stride alongside no-nonsense locals in the midst of crisp, clear nature, one might think. Think again. If such implications arise (and they do), Inland rather plays like a Bridget Jones hijacked by Werner Herzog, as our devastated would-be conqueror suffers all sorts of setbacks and illnesses when exposed to her new habitat, including recurrent nosebleeds, cabin fever, a peculiar obsession with bears and prolonged catatonia. “I have made a choice, and now I will live with it until the next choice,” reads the opening quote (straight from the novel). This length of time between choices constitutes the existential journey here, in the company of a protagonist with neither a choice nor free will (or even a character name, for that matter). It is indeed intriguing, and even a bit harrowing. Inland is quite an unusual Swedish film, which is very much about Sweden.

Inland was produced by Sweden’s BD Film AB, in co-production with Filmpool Nord AB and in association with SVT. The film was produced within the Moving Sweden production support scheme.

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