saw a beautiful film a couple of days ago down at mike and rose riddell’s house – if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t read something by mike, i heartily encourage you to do so forthwith. godzone and threshold of the future are great places to start. the film they showed me – mike’s second favourite after magnolia, which is high praise indeed – is from sweden and called ‘as it is in heaven’. it’s about an orchestra conductor who returns to his home village after a heart attack to recuperate, and ends up working with the local church choir. it deals with similar themes to ‘babette’s feast’, ‘together’, and ‘chocolat’. grace, community, forgiveness, domestic violence, the real treasure lying within – all these are here, along with some of the most mystical and ecstatic music i’ve heard in a film. it’s honest about the need to hold people accountable for their mistakes (but gives more hope to ‘sinners’ than ‘chocolat’ – which to my mind negated all that was good about its message by making one of the community an outcast; ‘as it is in heaven’, however, finds a way to both hold accountable, and offer the possibility of change to its most violent character.)
the last scene of this film is one of those perfect cinematic representations of our best hopes for life lived out loud, in the presence of loved ones, with no fear of what others may think. some viewers might find this film a little on the sentimental side, but it made me want to dance like no one’s watching.
p.s. kudos to michael nyqvist for one of the most beguiling performances in recent years.