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Home Vision Entertainment presents
All Things Fair (Lust och fägring stor) (1995)

Stig’s Mother: Surely you can tell me. I'm your mother.
Stig: Another time, when you're older and wiser.

- (Nina Gunke, Johan Widerberg)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: May 05, 2004

Stars: Johan Widerberg, Marika Lagercrantz
Other Stars: Tomas von Bromssen, Karin Huldt, Nina Gunke, Kenneth Milldoff, Bjorn Kiellman, Frida Lindholm
Director: Bo Widerberg

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexuality, nudity, language)
Run Time: 02h:09m:12s
Release Date: April 27, 2004
UPC: 037429192924
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+A-B D

DVD Review

Malmö, Sweden is a somewhat sleepy town, now energized by its proximity to Copenhagen, made more immediate by a newly constructed bridge that spans the Baltic. When I briefly visited the town last summer, there was a palpable sense of history, yet the town felt quite ordinary. Like any other place, the residents lead lives that may be simple and complex at the same time. That is this film's focus. Birthplace of director Bo Widerberg, Malmö would provide the perfect setting for this intense coming-of-age story.

Set during the early years of WWII, Stig (Johan Widerberg, the director's son) is a young adolescent, just entering the years of puberty. He and his fellow classmates walk the line between childish antics and an obsessive fascination for all things sexual. They are beginning to discover and explore this very adult world. Stig's develops an infatuation with his young, beautiful teacher, Viola (Marika Lagercrantz), whose sensual appearance is initially overshadowed by her strict rule over the class. When the pair is alone retrieving a map for a lesson, Stig kisses her. Surprisingly, she returns the gesture. Suddenly, the two are engaged in a powerful relationship.

This blatantly obvious affair either goes unnoticed or uncared about by Viola's husband (Tomas von Bromssen), whose free time is engulfed by classical music and gin. Constantly drunk, Stig and Frank develop a unique relationship. Before long, Stig realizes Frank is not the only one melting down; Viola's cruel game with Stig begins to deteriorate. She is losing control, and planning to take the young Stig down with her. After the novelty of her "applied Biology" wears off, Stig realizes this curiosity will have dire consequences if it is not stopped. His innocence has been lost. Before the journey ends, he must face death, and the consequences of the phrase "all is fair in love and war."

The late Widerberg's semi-autobiographical film continues the director's credo of making films about ordinary people and situations—a diverse contrast from his colleague, Ingmar Bergman. Widerberg's style rocks between a more conventional direction to an all-out documentary style, somewhat confusing the aesthetic of the film. He seems to have a clear handle on the material; love scenes are believable without being explicit. Widerberg is able to direct some fabulous performances, but his editing is occasionally awkward. The photography is quite gorgeous, capturing the naturalistic, available light that characterizes the look I remember from being in Scandinavia. Overall, it is well paced, but lags toward the end.

Johan Widerberg's portrayal of Stig begins with the right mixture of boyish uncertainty and curiosity, then matures rapidly throughout the story. Though I do wonder if such a young boy could handle these gargantuan events so calmly, this is a natural, realistic performance. Marika Lagercrantz's impressive performance as Viola shows a stark contrast. She begins as a young, intelligent, put-together teacher and slowly decays into a drinking, emotionally empty wreck. I am most impressed by Viola's husband, played by Tomas von Bromssen. True, drunks may be somewhat easy to play, but his avoided comedic exaggeration and maintained a level of almost parental wisdom and intelligence. Ultimately, these performances make this somewhat flawed film worthwhile.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Home Vision has provided an impressive anamorphic transfer. The naturalistic color scheme is well captured and exhibits very little grain. Digital artifacting and overenhancement is not an issue. Contrast and detail are very good. Thankfully, this looks to be a native NTSC transfer and not a PAL recycle.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Swedishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 2.0 stereo track has a nice sense of detail and depth. Dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear, as is the well chosen, yet slightly overused classical pieces heard throughout. Sadly, no surround information is encoded.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert with an essay by Wheeler Winston Dixon
Extras Review: The only extras on the disc are filmographies for Bo Widerberg and his son, Johan.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Widerberg's outing is an above average coming-of-age tale that captures the look of WWII Sweden and the plights of the people within. Despite some flaws, the performances make this worth seeing. Home Vision's disc contains a beautiful transfer, but is light on extras—a fair tradeoff.

 


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