Hur man stoppar ett bröllop / Sweden / 2014 / dir. Drazen Kuljanin / 72 mins / drama / starring Christian Ehrnstén & Lina Sundén
No, How To Stop A Wedding is not a Swedish version of Julia Roberts’s on-screen adventures back in 1997, when she was desperately trying to ruin her best friend’s engagement to someone else. Director Drazen Kuljanin’s debut feature film is a 72-minutes long encounter, captured solely during the five-hour train ride between Malmö and Stockholm, Sweden.
Philip (Christian Ehrnstén) and Amanda (Lina Sundén) are two strangers who happen to be travelling in the same compartment, heading to the same wedding, one that none of them is particularly happy about. She is carrying a book about revenge while his is about time travel. It would be quite accurate to say that, as it turns out, they have both chosen a story that sounds like their own. He is the romantic, the hopeful dreamer. He is trapped in a fairytale that he would like to go back to and which he can only imagine ending happily, because he is “that kind of guy”. She is tense, bitter, angry and sad. Is it possible to even out the angles in such a situation of opposites and do those two have enough in common to make it happen?
Despite being shot in a limited space and with visual variety in setting coming almost entirely from the changing view of the speeding train, the film refuses to become flat or monotonous. Grounding its narrative and cinematic strength on interesting and brilliantly paced dialogue, as well as on wise adaptation of camera movement, it has no need of landscape shots or catchy songs to appeal to the viewer. A lot of close-ups record and enhance the emotional curve of the characters while the score fits very well, working supportively yet quite efficiently as the story unfolds.
To cut a long story short, How to stop a wedding is the result of a challenging filming process, an indie film not always technically perfect but definitely engaging from start to end. The cast gives a solid and subtle performance, especially Sundén with whom the director has also worked in his short film “2038”. Regarding to the plot, you might have come across similar stories before, but this is still worth watching for it resembles a photographic realization of thoughts. It compels one to see Philip and Amanda not just as a couple of people who interact and communicate, but mostly as mirrors who provided each other the surfaces on which to reflect and study their inner selves. Irrespective of what happens next, those five hours on the train have been a reminder that living facing the past, can be as annoying as travelling on a seat that faces backwards. Unless you prebook one that’s comfortable, you will most likely embark on a journey throughout which you will be feeling nauseous and grumpy.