Lundgren is a lonely night watchman. During the days he stays at home in his apartment space and at night he walks the streets. One night during a burglary, he stumbles upon a mannequin that looks like a woman he has always dreamed about. It's love at first sight. He brings the mannequin back home to his apartment, but the people in the apartment building get some weird vibes from Lundgren as feels he is hiding something.
It's amazing how many Swedish films I have missed due to my young age and ignorance. I'm still very set on the fact that Swedish movies suck because looking at the majority, they do. I still have to push myself into Swedish movies, even though it has gotten easier lately (maybe because of the marathon we did). "Vaxdockan" is one of a few review copies that I got from Klubb Super 8 last time I met them and it has taken me some time before getting to reviewing this one.
I should've been interested in this movie to begin with because the story alone is something that would appeal to me. The story of Lundgren, a lonely night watchman, is both sad and fascinating as he falls in love with a mannequin that he steals from a store at night. His relationship with the mannequin starts very one-sided (no shit) and is a source of happiness for Lundgren. But after a while the mannequin begins to talk. And move. And live. His perfect relationship soon becomes another typical relationship with problems and arguing. Meanwhile the other people in the apartment building are curious as to why he is acting so weird all of the sudden. They begin to investigate a bit on their own and soon enough stumble upon his little secret.
Every time I watch an old movie I think about how unaffected they are. How the today's norm of what a movie should be is in no way present in the movie. Sure, the movies from the 60's are influenced by movies as well, but it's basicly still early in the inbreeding of the movie world and they have yet to become mutated by it. "Vaxdockan" was to me a good example of this, as I can't see a movie like this being made in the Sweden of 2011. It was fresh to see such a artistic drama with a (for its time) crazy story from my home country. At the same time it's sad to think where we are now.
What makes this movie so amazing is the acting by Per Oscarsson. Being as young as I am, I haven't had the pleasure to see much of his work. My knowledge of him is basicly that he was the old man in one of the things I hate the most about Christmas, the TV movie "Kan du vissla Johanna?" (it's on TV in Sweden every Christmas) and that he was burnt to death in his home as recent as in December 2010. Had I only seen "Vaxdockan" earlier, maybe I would've have had more respect for him while he was still alive. His work in "Vaxdockan" is truly terrific. No doubt one of the best acted roles in Swedish cinema. He does it with such variety, but remaining true to the character. Through the movie he goes between sadness, indifference, happiness, love, anger, and any other emotion you can think of and there's not a second you doubt it. It might not sound like anything unique, since that's what an actor should be able to do, but have you watched movies before? Good, then you should know how amazing it is when you find someone playing a role to perfection. And how rare it is.
The movie is definitely to be categorized as arthouse and that's probably the last thing I had expected from this movie. It really is a beautiful movie, not only storywise but the cinematography, lighting, you name it. It's all there to add to this isolated story of a one-sided relationship. The only thing I thought ruined the feel was the theme song, where a little girl is singing that a man is playing with dolls (I think at some point she sang "sleeping with dolls" as well). It just didn't fit into the movie at all, especially when it kicked in at the ending.
"Vaxdockan" should not be missed. I can't believe I haven't heard about it before (other than browsing Klubb Super 8 titles). It is, hands down, one of the best Swedish movies I have ever seen. It's the first movie I see by the director Arne Mattsson, but I doubt it will be my last. Per Oscarsson carries the story on his shoulders like a champ, and Gio Petré is great as the living doll. Especially when it just starts to live, as she plays it stale and doll-like. If you consider yourself a fan of fine films then you should buy "Vaxdockan" or at the very least watch it.