29 January 2009 | ozjeppe
Vibrantly moody and emotionally charged treatment of trademark Jonas Gardell topic themes...
This 4-part mini-series follows the fates of three families in Sweden between 1970 and today, and intertwines everything in their lives from inadequate parenthood, growing pains, homosexuality, alcoholism, neo-nazism, to the devastating heritage of religious bigotry. Mainly shown from the children's point of view, as its title memorably refers to old time family portraits that depicted both living and dead family members.
Scriptwriter Jonas Gardell's trademark dark topic themes (that certainly keeps the anguished drama tradition a' la Bergman & Lars Norén alive) are given a vibrantly moody and emotionally charged treatment, for sure. I guess I could have a go at the one-sided, all-male gender child- and teenhood perspective, but I won't... Told in one of those frantically paced time-overlapping storytelling styles, it keeps the uncertainty hovering and the cliffhanger addiction flying between the episodes, (despite a somewhat unnecessarily solemn tone) to find out exactly how things hang together from past to present.
Although the content may be not too original, it's still pertinent, and when handled as strongly and sensibly as this by director Kaijser, I don't really mind the message repetition at all! Wonderfully acted, mainly by its youngster cast, plus an uproarious performance by Dencik as a mentally abusive husband/control freak. Excellent production values, too, although some uneven make-up qualities distract the eye...
7 out of 10 from Ozjeppe