Blog Directory CineVerse: "Different kinds of happy..."

"Different kinds of happy..."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Sweet Land" is the kind of under-the-radar indie darling that serves as a hidden treasure film that rewards those few viewers, who choose to seek it out, with a tender, moving cinematic experience. The marketing for the film may lead you to believe that it's another period piece romance with heavy comic undertones and a meet-cute premise that centers around a mail-order bride. The mail-order bride part is true, but the rest of that subgenre baggage falls away when the viewer quickly discovers that this isn't going to be a typical romantic drama from the Hollywood cookie cutter assembly line. Among the observations shared during last evening's CineVerse discussion are the following points:


  • It’s visually poetic and beautiful in an unspoken way, without much dialogue or action.
    • DVD Talk reviewer Brian Orndorf wrote: (Director Ali) “Selim concentrates on the looks and silence between these two, toying with the language barrier to create a more soulful way to express attraction.”
  • The film is American made, yet has European sensibilities and a slow-paced foreign feel to it.
  • The cinematography is majestic and epic, capturing the idyllic Midwestern countryside; it helps that the picture is shot on location in southern Minnesota.
  • Despite the fact that multiple languages are used (English, Norwegian and German), the filmmakers don’t use subtitles; this is arguably appropriate, considering inability to communicate and understand one another is a major theme of the movie.
    • Selim was quoted as saying: “"I thought it was an interesting love story more than anything, because of the language barrier they have. And I think it's a metaphor for most men and most women who speak an entirely different language and have to find something more than the intellectual power of words to communicate." 
  • Interestingly, we don’t see a change of seasons reflected in the land or countryside, even though time passes in this story. Doing so may have interrupted or diluted the geographic beauty the filmmakers wanted to maintain.
  • There are no predictable romantic tropes, such as flirtatious behavior, passionate kissing or embracing, or a steamy sex scene. There are also no overly melodramatic moments, sudden tragic events, spicy twists or other cliché story devices endemic to many romance films.
  • The movie doesn’t try to preach or sermonize to the viewer with some kind of higher moral lesson or over-sentimentalized/excessively romanticized parable. This is a very simple story about two characters who look and feel like real people.
  • Forbidden romance, and its allure and stigma. 
  • The experience of American immigrants and the culture shock they encounter.
  • Xenophobia and fear and mistrust of the outsider, even if that fear is unwarranted.
  • Lack of communication and the inability of men and women and all human beings, to some extent, to properly communicate.
  • The benefits and drawbacks of living in small town USA and being a part of a tight-knit, rural, countrified community.
  • Days of Heaven
  • The Quiet Man
  • It’s a Wonderful Life and other Frank Capra films
  • In America
  • The New Land (1972)
  • Babette’s Feast
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall

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