Yesterday, September 29, The Milwaukee Film Festival had its second screening of “Stockholm Stories” as part of its Passport: Sweden Program. The film is marketed as Sweden’s answer to “Love Actually,” and while it has the same loose format, there are numerous differences that leaves it deep in “Love Actually”‘s shadow.
“Stockholm Stories” jumps back and forth between different characters living in Stockholm as they face different challenges from adoption to dating to career blockades. While Johan relentlessly pursues his writing career, Anna is shunned by her lover, Douglas is caught between his personal aspirations and father’s expectations, and Jessika is caught in a whirlwind between a fight over a gift basket, mystery admirer, and adoption difficulties.
The plot pieces are all there to make for a Swedish copy of “Love Actually,” but the connections between the characters are too loose and not developed enough for the audience to really care about them. Part of what makes “Love Actually” great is that there are so many different story lines that all come together in the end to promote the same, unified message. “Stockholm Stories,” however, leaves the audience with scattered disconnect.
There are certainly enough story lines for the audience to keep occupied and entertained throughout the film, but somehow “Stockholm Stories” manages to be extremely paced. The plot doesn’t seem to move, partially because of the dramatic nature of the film.
The overall tone of the film leans more on the side of melodrama. Lots of closeups, dramatic music, and drawn out scenes add to how slow-paced the film is, whereas a film like “Love Actually” includes more humor, even amid story lines that are dramatic overall. One of “Stockholm Stories”‘s strongest plots is that of Jessika and how she comes connected to workaholic Thomas. It artfully balances humor and drama in a way that really makes the storyline stick and stay with the viewer in a film with a lot happening.
Ultimately, “Stockholm Stories” doesn’t live up to the hype that the marketers present. There are certainly story lines that are truly endearing or undeniably funny, but there just aren’t enough of these moments on either end of the drama-comedy spectrum to get the audience invested in the characters.
“Stockholm Stories” screens one final time at the Milwaukee Film Festival on Thursday, October 8 at 4 p.m. at The Times Cinema. Tickets are available online or at The Milwaukee Film Box Office. For more information, please visit the Milwaukee Film website.