Saturday, July 23, 2011

Luke Perry in Sweden : Midsummer Sex Comedy

Midsummer is the longest day of the year. That is why there is no “night” in this film’s title, even though it feels like it should be there. This is just one of the lesser perils of openly evoking Woody Allen’s Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy and Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night. Yet, a largely Swedish cast (with 90210’s Luke Perry in tow) bravely risks such head-on comparisons throughout Ian McCrudden’s A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy (full frontally trailer here), which is now available on digital platforms, including i-tunes.

Contrary to expectations, it turns out Swedes are just as neurotic about sex as Americans, if not slightly more repressed, at least if Emil’s friends constitute a representative sampling. He has invited them to his island getaway home for the annual Midsummer celebration and what he hopes will be a spontaneous wedding. He has not let his fiancé Susanne in on his plans, just his Peter Pan American college buddy, Sam. Naturally, every character has distinct issues and hang-ups. One couple has struggled to get pregnant, while another could deliver at any minute. Eva is on the rebound from her sexually confused minister boyfriend, but she recognizes a scammer like Sam when she sees one.

Sure, everyone gets naked and jumps into the lake from time to time, but SMSC is more about romantic insecurities than naughty hedonism. Indeed, it can get surprisingly angsty at times, though American filmmaker McCrudden (whose credits include co-directing the excellent documentary Anita O’Day: the Life of a Jazz Singer) keeps the action skipping along rather spritely, giving viewers plenty of sailing montages and the like. Cinematographer Dan Coplan makes the scenery of Emil’s Swedish Martha’s Vineyard sparkle, while Timo Räisänen’s music is compulsively upbeat.

Luke Perry portraying a James Dean poseur hardly constitutes radical casting, but at least he does not require much suspension of disbelief as goodtime Sam. However, Daniel Gustavsson is rather good as Emil. When he is freed to act out, he runs with it memorably. Anna Littorin’s Eva also has some nice moments flirting with Perry and carrying a torch for Gustavsson.

Surprisingly, SMSC is really kind of not bad. It is definitely not what one would expect, delivering far less frolicking than the average Carry-On film, but providing considerably more dramatic calories. Frankly, it is the sort of pleasant but quickly forgotten distraction that goes over well on a scaldingly hot weekend afternoon. It is now available on i-tunes, recommended for everyone who intrigued at the prospect of watching Luke Perry in a (mostly) Swedish film.