I’ve only been to Stockholm once and I loved it. Honestly I think I’m quite biased with anything related to Sweden/ Scandinavia since then. There is something about this region that draws me into it. Well first, Scandinavia has a very high standards of living and second, it is also very far from Australia so we don’t hear much about it and besides a bunch of stereotypes; such as the blonde and blue eyed hot Swedish girls and guys, I don’t know much else about Sweden/ Scandinavia.
Left to Right: Beatrix Tanuwidjaja and Bianca Kronlof
I was very lucky to get invited to the Scandinavian Film Festival opening night where they showed a screening of the movie Underdog (Svenskjävel in Swedish) who has won many awards, followed later by some Q&A with the main actress herself, Bianca Kronlof.
Bianca Kronlof as “Dino”. Photo credit: Spook Magazine
The movie tells the story of 23-year-old “Dino” (Bianca Kronlöf) who moved to Norway, Oslo in search for a better life and opportunities. Her new life, however, turned out to be not as what she had hoped, stuck in a loop of temporary jobs, financial hardship and partying. One day she got a job as a nanny for a Norwegian middle-class home. Her boss played by Henrik Rafaelsen, a retired sport star, owns a restaurant and has a very young daughter to look after. His wife has been away for quite some time and he needs an extra hand to look after the child. Gradually, things started to develop between Dino and her boss. Until one day, the boss’s wife came home unannounced and Dino found herself stuck in a love triangle.
Underdog is a movie about the transition of power shift from Sweden to Norway and it is highlighted in the movie quite strongly of how the Swedes end up being the Norwegian’s servants.
It is also a story about the differences in “class”, the relationship between the boss and the employee and also issues and challenges faced when migrating into a new country, the hardships in finding a job and adjusting into a new country/ culture.
Overall, it is a great movie if you are sick of the stereotypical “romcom”/ drama movie where the story line usually goes something like this, they were once friends, attracted to each other then they became lovers, they fell out, managed to work through the differences and now they’re back together again. Happily ever after. Underdog, on the flipside, felt raw and real and each character is battling their own challenges to find love and be accepted in one way or another.
In the Q&A, Bianca also highlighted some interesting stats, she said that unemployment in Sweden is now reaching up to 25% and 10% who are living in Oslo are Swedes. The power shift is happening and it is something that’s uncomfortable to talk about. The director, Ronnie Sandahl did a great job in writing and directing the film. He summed it up perfectly, “I always try to portray politics through personal experiences or personal experiences through politics. I needed to find a way to recount simultaneously the shift in economic and social power between Norway and Sweden, but also the imbalance between men and women and employers and employees… The finale shows this and I had that ending in mind ever since I started writing.”
And perhaps the most quoted line in the movie was “We think of you as a retarded cousin who has won the lottery.” was Dino’s response when asked what she thought about their wealthy neighbour.