A dry and cynical yet desperately melancholy (or melancholically desperate) black comedy, the debut feature from Swedish writer/director Axel Petersén is a cautionary tale about what lies in store in the distant future for the wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Its good qualities, however, are insufficient to make Avalon more than just a promising but slight debut, allegedly inspired by the helmer's own relatives in the beach resort of Bastad (Mr. Petersén's own aunt, Léonore Ekstrand, is one of the leads).

     The film tells of the ill-fated return of Janne (Johannes Brost), just released from some misdemeanor never spoken of, to his usual seaside haunts to help with the opening of a new night club named Avalon (for Roxy Music's song of the same name). A distracted drive, though, sees him kill the Lithuanian jack-of-all-trades his associate Klas (Peter Carlberg) had hired to renovate his cottage, setting in motion a chain of events as darkly funny as they are darkly disturbing and just plain sad. These highlight just how much Janne and his entourage live in a bubble that is being gradually squeezed by the real world, their immaturity and irresponsibility remaining striking in their old age.

     And yet, despite everything, Mr. Petersén successfully manages to make us understand the fears and troubles inside Janne's head, much helped by Mr. Brost's understated performance, while making us wince at the absolute lack of compassion and morality present in these people for whom only now seems to exist. Everything seems to just happen to them, and they themselves are apparently mere accidents waiting to happen. It isn't enough to make Avalon more than a nifty but underdeveloped debut, but it's enough to make it worth keeping an eye on this young director.

Cast: Johannes Brost, Peter Carlberg, Léonore Ekstrand

Director and writer: Axel Petersén
Cinematography: Måns Månsson (colour, processing by Filmek Teknik)
Music: Julian Hruza
Designer: Ellen Oseng
Costumes: Denise Östholm
Editor: Theis Schmidt
Producers: Erika Wasserman, Jesper Kurlandsky (Idyll and Fasad in co-production with Film i Väst, Swedish Television and Film Fyn)
Sweden, 2011, 79 minutes

Screened: DVD, Lisbon, November 16th 2012


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