Review: The Two Popes

Review: Britt-Marie Was Here

We’ve seen this one before. An older woman finds out her husband has been having an affair and leaves him. First she struggles with it and then she finds herself. Last year’s Finding Your Feet explored this topic nicely. And now comes the Swedish version Britt-Marie Was Here, based on a novel by the same author that brought us the wonderful A Man Called Ove back in 2016. He certainly excels at writing older characters. Britt-Marie is no Ove, but it’s a pleasant enough little self-discovery flick for a matinee with some gal pals.

Britt-Marie is a Swedish woman in her sixties and spends her time cleaning house — lots of cleaning — and waiting for her hubby to come home to a nice meal. But when he lands in the hospital with a heart attack and she speeds to his bedside only to find another younger woman there, she packs up and leaves. But since she’s been a housewife for her whole adult life, she doesn’t have much to put on a resume and takes the only job offered — soccer coach at a youth center in a small town on the edge of nowhere. Needless to say, she has no idea what she’s doing and everyone knows it and no one expects anything good to come from it. But…

There’s a policeman there who takes a shine to her. And the community really wants the kids to be able to compete in an upcoming tournament. And there’s a former soccer star in town who needs to get back into the swing of things. And slowly Britt-Marie gets her groove back and it ends with smiles and cheers. It’s totally predictable but Pernilla August as Britt-Marie elevates an otherwise silly/sappy story. It’s entertaining and ultimately, an uplifting little ride.

[Mainstream Chick’s take: I agree with Arty Chick on this one. Britt-Marie Was Here (aka Britt-Marie var här) rings familiar on multiple levels. It’s a sweet, predictable film with shades of a conventional sports drama, as a group of underdog kids teach Britt-Marie a lesson or two about life and chasing your dreams at any age, while she teaches them a little something about responsibility and perseverance. Britt-Marie Was Here doesn’t offer anything particularly new, and isn’t nearly as emotionally and narratively gripping as Ove, but it’s an easy watch, akin to a comfortable old shoe that casually traverses the mainstream and arty divide. In Swedish and German with English subtitles. -hb]

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