Stockholm My Love

Review by Eve Watling

Directed by

Mark Cousins

Starring

Neneh Cherry

Anticipation.

Writer/director Mark Cousins won acclaim for his last lyrical ode to a city, I Am Belfast.

Enjoyment.

The film remains at surface-level despite its extensive fey musings.

In Retrospect.

A missed opportunity to present a different view of Sweden.

A rare misfire from director Mark Cousins, as he turns his camera to the streets of the Swedish capital.

Although the title professes adoration to the Swedish capital, Stockholm’s tourist board might not be entirely pleased with Mark Cousins’ latest offering. Stockholm My Love is an essay film-meets-city symphony-meets-poetic monologue, which sets the town as a grey-hued backdrop for a woman to explore her feelings of guilt among the prefab houses and suburban squares.

The meandering film follows Swedish hip hop/dance pop artist Neneh Cherry as Alva Achebe, a fictional architect whose character seems only a lightly sketched version of the real-life Cherry. Achebe is plagued by depression after accidentally killing an elderly man with her car. On her path to forgiveness, she decides to listen in silence to the city, and then address it through song.

As she seeks solace in the concrete pools of a skate ramp or in a subway carriage, her voiceover unspools internally. Cutaways show her pensively staring at the city, and even Cherry’s on-screen magnetism can’t prevent this from becoming repetitive and indulgent. Considering the power that Cousins’ own personal reflections brought to his native city in 2016’s I Am Belfast, the choice to fictionalise Cherry’s character seems odd.

Making her an architect with a traumatic past is an easy way of legitimising her insights on her surroundings. Yet Cherry, who was born in Stockholm and has lived an incredibly varied life, likely has far more personal and interesting things to say about the city and its social structures than anything which the script by the Irish director gives us.

The modernist lines and muted colours of the Swedish capital are captured beautifully by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who finds moments of beauty in the shivering reflections of reeds in a pond, or the brightness of two oranges against a flat pavement. The narration sometimes reveals similar moments of insight, but they are too far and few between in this foggy, unstructured film.

Published 18 Jun 2017

Tags: Mark Cousins Neneh Cherry

Anticipation.

Writer/director Mark Cousins won acclaim for his last lyrical ode to a city, I Am Belfast.

Enjoyment.

The film remains at surface-level despite its extensive fey musings.

In Retrospect.

A missed opportunity to present a different view of Sweden.

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