Directed by: Viktor Johansson
‘Under Gottsunda’ is a collection of scenes that give us a peek into the lives of a bunch of Swedish teenagers. It’s a film that captures a few subcultures, and perhaps even nudges a few nostalgic memories for the viewer. I know I was taken back to those days when I would ride my red mountain bike around town, wasting time, making mischief.
There are certain similarities here with Harmony Korine’s early work, only there’s more innocence at play. What the film does capture is the struggle for Sweden’s immigrant communities to feel truly Swedish. This is introduced by director Viktor Johansson in the shape of two boys of Palestinian extraction, and a Macedonian man who longs for his homeland, and struggles to make his daughter understand this. The most touching scenes involve the Macedonian man and his blonde teenage daughter, as he tries to train her up into looking after herself when he eventually goes away.
Johansson doesn’t really tell a story, there’s no need, he just wants to create a naturalistic feel using a cast of young actors. The point is that these kids just hang around. One teenager even describes himself as a ‘hangaround’. There’s an argument in recent years that technology has turned the youngsters into hermits and anti-social monosyllabic digital addicts but the reality is that teenagers will always be drawn into gangs and subcultures. They will hang around in car parks and outside shops, just as how we did when we were teens and how our parents did when they were young.
You’ve got long-boarders, moped riders, hip hop heads, dancers, martial artists and dead beat stoners. The film flicks about as we see these the summer through teenage eyes in each little five minutes vignette. Though Johansson makes a few socio-political statements throughout the movie, most obviously a comment on the senseless murder of kids in Israel, he doesn’t dwell on this in the other threads. There are a few characters that aren’t really fleshed out. The mentally fragile tennis player comes and goes, and then there are the kids dressed in camouflage that practice self-defense techniques, but for what reason? Well, that’s not entirely obvious.
‘Under Gottsunda’ is a watchable, smartly shot film from a director who undoubtedly has a flair for capturing the mundane. I look forward to seeing what Viktor Johansson comes up with next.