Svenskjävel / Sweden / 2015 / dir. Ronnie Sandahl / 97 mins / drama / starring Bianca Kronlöf & Henrik Rafaelsen

Underdog depicts a grim new Swedish reality that belies the country’s image as a nation of socially enlightened families living in bright IKEA-filled spaces. Dino, an aimless young woman estranged from her alcoholic father, is the face of modern Sweden. Like 80,000 of her countrymen, she has fled unemployment for a new life in Oslo. But in Norway she’s treated like a dog, caught in a destructive spiral of day labor and a chaotic living situation. Dino finds a part-time job in a sushi restaurant owned by Steffen, a former tennis pro who’s raising two daughters while his wife is off doing good in Africa. His overweight 16-year-old is desperately in need of attention. Into the void steps Dino, who takes on the role of laid-back babysitter and family peacekeeper. Soon the balance of power in Steffen and Dino’s relationship plays itself out in unexpected ways. This powerful film by gifted young director Ronnie Sandahl, which has won prizes in Chicago, Zürich and Lübeck, features a hard-hitting performance by feminist artist Bianca Kronlöf.

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.