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Traffic in small towns throughout Sweden is rather limited, as gas prices have been soaring for more than a decade. People seem to stay put and go about their business, even though the life slowly pulls the individual through a painfully dreary existence. I grew up in such a place where the theater showed movies once a week and the movies were released on video at the same time that the theater got them. For a teen, it was agonizing, as nothing ever happened, or changed in my little village. The only thing that was organized for youth and teens was soccer, and of course all kids from the village became a part of the local club team. The director Ulf Malmros whom also grew up in such a place captures the idyllic small town nostalgia of Sweden in an hilariously exaggerated manner.
Slim Susie opens with the main character, Erik (Jonas Rimeika), and another character, Micke Tretton (Johan Andersson), who are introduced in a later disturbing scene involving a nail gun, fleeing from someone, most likely very dangerous. Erik and the other person decide to separate, as Erik seeks refuge in a small local dinner where he sits down and watches the opening credits for this film, which by the way offers an amusing mirroring scene between Erik and a claymation character on the television. The scene on the television does not exactly end the way Erik wants it to end, as he finds himself sitting in front of an unknown person with a creepy persona that demands Erik to tell him what happened.
An offer that Erik cannot refuse makes him begin to tell the story from the beginning, which starts with why and how he got back to his home town. The story is told through a flashback that is frequently broken up by the interrogator, as he demands the truth from Erik. Through the grilling questions Erik reveals a number of different characters from the village who were involved in the incident. It is never clear what has happened, but slowly through Erik's story the truth emerges. One thing the audience does know from the beginning is that his sister Susie (Tuva Novotny) has disappeared and this is why he has returned to his monotonous hometown.
The film, in essence, dwells on existentialism through the meaningless existence that many suffer from in the small town. Malmros' story of Erik's return home travels on the edge of small town existence in Sweden revealing several of the issues in regards to the dull rural town living. Through the characters each issue is presented in a manner of how to reduce the agony of living in the small town. There are issues such as infidelity, drugs, reality escape, and depression, which seem to stem from the unhappiness. Nonetheless, it is within the unhappiness where the strength of the story rests, as Malmros exploits this situation with parody.
Malmros mischievously incorporates cinematic elements from many other films such as Pulp Fiction (1994), A Clockwork Orange (1971), and Trainspotting (1996) into Slim Susie, which only enhances the visual experience. The camerawork playfully utilizes several close-ups that naturally make parts of the scenes look disproportional, which elevates the parody within the story. In addition, throughout the film the many characters come across as eccentrically peculiar, which strengthens the notion that Malmros' youthful boredom might have heavily influenced him in his creation of this fantastic cinematic environment. The combined journey of Malmro's creation will leave the audience with a spectacular tale full of dark humor and existential questions in regards to what one should do with their own life.
this is a wild and wacky journey thru and to madness, but it all makes sense (?) at the end. all is not what it seems except what is. it is brilliant and at the same time dumb as a rock and quickly changes at the blink of an eye. enjoy the madness because it's quite sane. enjoy