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Britt Marie was here

Britt Marie is 63 and has pretty much wasted her life. For her first 10 years, she was in the shadow of her more self-confident sister. After the sister died in a car crash, she more or less gave up. A little bar work followed by 40 years as a housewife clearing up after a husband who never really noticed her.

When the husband has a heart attack and she finds a younger blonde woman at his hospital bedside she goes straight to the job centre, where they offer her a job looking after a multi-cultural, kids’ football team in the arse end of nowhere. The offer seems to have more to do with plot than rationality as she has no interest in either football or children.

The rest of the film works up to the Great Match between the team of rag tag and bobtail boys and girls, and opponents who seem to be close relatives of the Aryan lad who sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” towards the end of Cabaret.

Will they avoid humiliation? Will the match even take place – as it requires Britt Marie to have a trainer’s license, something that seemed to have escaped the attention of the Job Centre at her cursory interview? Look, its not that sort of film. Its more like the ones that used to be produced by the Childrens’ Film Foundation, which chose not to include any difficult plot twists that may confuse us.

Yet despite the risible plot and the sheer inevitability of it all, there is something here. Maybe its the dual message of “don’t give in to arrogant men in suits” and “life is existentially meaningless”, but you do feel engaged even though there are no surprizes from beginning to end.

This is the latest of a number of Scandinavian films where the hero(ine) is an unglamorous, middle aged to elderly man or woman, and while its not in the same league as last year’s Woman at War (Gegen den Strom), it generates a similar degree of good will for starring actors who don’t look like they would belong in Hollywood.

Nothing special, but all the same a pleasant enough evening.

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