DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE (director/writer: Roy Andersson cinematographers: Istvan Borbas/Gergely Palos; editor: Alexandra Strauss; music: Hani Jazzar/Gorm Sundberg ; cast: Holger Andersson (Jonathan), Nils Westblom (Sam), Charlotta Larsson (Limping Lotta), Viktor Gyllenberg (King Carl XII), Lotti Tornros (Flamenco Teacher), Jonas Gerholm (Lonely Colonel), Ola Stensson (Captain/Barber), Oscar Salomonsson (Dancer), Roger Olsen Likvern (Caretaker); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Pernilla Sandstrom; Studio 24-PAL DVD, Magnolia Pictures; 2014-Sweden-in Swedish with English subtitles)

"Though loved by critics, this unique comedy has not found an audience."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A series of surreal, understated and absurd vignettes about what it takes to be human in today's world, that is cynically helmed by Swedish director Roy Andersson ("You, The Living"/"Songs From The Second Floor"/"Tomorrow's Another Day") as the last leg of his humanity trilogy. It's more distressing than amusing, though Andersson's droll humor comes through as an acquired taste not for everyone. Maybe I was disappointed because I expected more, even though the subjects covered such as unrequited love, aging, loss, financial debt, life disappointments and loneliness are painful and not readily made for comedy.

Though loved by critics, this unique comedy has not found an audience.

The story-line follows for a good part two struggling sad-sack traveling novelty salesmen, Sam (Nils Westblom) and Jonathan (Holger Andersson), thinking they are in the entertainment business, trying to hawk such items as vampire teeth and collect past debts from stores in Gothenburg. At midnight, they loudly converse in their hotel room while trying to deal with their failed life.

It opens with three death scenes. The first has a husband dropping dead on the floor while trying to open a wine bottle. The second has a bedridden dying mom refusing to let go of her bag of jewelry, thinking she could use it in heaven. The third one has a cafeteria customer dropping dead at the counter after paying for his meal, and no other patron takes his free meal except for his beer.

Of the many vignettes, two other ones caught my attention positively. Outside a dance studio an overweight female flamenco teacher (Lotti Tornros) too loosely puts her hands on her handsome male pupil (Oscar Salomonsson) while teaching a dance class. The other one has King Charles XII (Viktor Gyllenberg) and his infantry drop in unannounced on horseback to a bar and the soldiers on orders kick out the female patrons and whip a Russian patron while the king drinks mineral water.

The lesson delivered is that things could always be worse, so we never should get too down no matter what. But to believe that pigeons reflect on life while perched on tree branches is a little too much to go along with. Nevertheless this Python-like pic has its enjoyable moments while looking only at the dark side of life.

REVIEWED ON 8/14/2015       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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