Novelist Jonas Gardell adapts his own bestseller about growing up in 1970s-era Sweden with its countless perils, heartbreaks, and shifting alliances, in this painfully savvy feature from director Rojda Sekersöz (Beyond Dreams).
My Life as a Comedian
Few films examine the heartbreak of early adolescence with the nuance of Rojda Sekersöz's powerful My Life as a Comedian, adapted by writer Jonas Gardell from his own bestseller, a kind of Swedish Catcher in the Rye. The film is told in flashback by comedian Juha Lindstrom, widely trumpeted as a defender of the downtrodden, reflecting on his youth. The subject of his latest sold-out show is growing up in 1970s Sweden, when it was lauded as an ideal state, and ABBA and Borg were on top. But for class clown Juha — resented for his attention grabbing and his Finnish ancestry — life sure doesn't feel perfect. He only escapes bullying because others are considered weirder: Thomas, the geeky German kid whose father is absent and who is being raised by his awkward, desperate-to-fit-in mother; and Jenny Li, who was adopted by the family across the street.
They are also his best friends — just not at school, where Juha barely acknowledges them. The class bullies aren't very bright but they're geniuses at cruelty, and they devise inventive ways of twisting the knife. They soon realize they can turn Juha and Thomas against one another, with disastrous results. The pain of this period torments the adult Lindstrom and his reputation as a courageous protector of the oppressed only exacerbates things.
My Life as a Comedian is painfully savvy about how brutal kids can be — and how stubbornly clueless adults can be about this. It may be very much about the seventies, but its portrait of human nature is as relevant as ever.