All Things Fair

Cover Art and Menu: 7/10
What a great way to start a review. I love this cover. It’s sensual, exciting, visually interesting and hints at the story with just enough information to catch your eye, and your imagination. It’s such a relief to have something good to say about a cover, I so rarely have the privilege.

The menu is well done with some video in the background and a simple, but a menu that follows the 40’s theme of the movie. Let me clarify, I like the cover and I like the menu….whoa a double hitter!

Extras and Features: 2/10

  • Director & Actor Filmography – Interesting, but nothing you can’t find from about a zillion other resources.
  • Liner Notes – The DVD comes with a printed insert containing a brief description

The Movie: 8/10:
World War II Sweden is the setting for this coming of age drama, and neither the war or the era can temper a story about sex, marriage, family, and youthful indiscretions. This is a tale that could take place in any time period, it’s “timeless” as they say. A young man gets a crush on his young beautiful teacher, he makes a move and she rejects him….oh, well, in a politically correct story there would be rejection. In this story however, the reality of life tales the story and she does not turn him away.

There is more to this affair than meets the eye, of course, because the teacher is married. Intellectually the expected tension we know we should be feeling to feel about the situation is diffused by the convincing performances and the amazingly natural dialogue. We all know that a student/teacher affair is inappropriate, and those twinges of being uncomfortable do swirl around in the beginning, but after awhile I let myself accept that these characters are not living a manufactured life from a printed page, they are meant to be real people who succumb to their feelings. And if we are honest about it, that is how real life works most of the time.

Once you are taken into their secret affair the innocence quickly melts away when the husband enters the picture. Not only is he not at war with the idea of his wife’s infidelity, he accepts it as a condition of their troubled marriage. Friendships develop between the unlikeliest of characters, and in those relationships lie the most poignant moments of the film. I say poignant, but not overly sentimental or mushy. This is not a Hollywood blockbuster with some flimsy romance tossed in for the “chick flick” factor. This is truly a story about relationships, people struggling between love, lust, happiness, and sorrow.

Set during WWII the movie has a delicately woven backdrop of radio announcements, newsreels, and references to wartime life. While this adds a certain atmosphere, you get lost more in the characters so the fact that they are constantly reminded of the war, they continue on with daily life.

As the affair between the student and teacher evolves, the initial eroticism is slowly traded for awkward desperation. The teacher, a woman whose mundane life, job, and marriage drive her to stray to the arms and youthful sexuality of her student reacts badly when the student begins to pull away. He is learning a life lesson and has the maturity to realize it as time goes on. Wanting to be with her physically has it’s price, as well as rejecting her emotionally. He’s growing up quickly while boys his own age are still giggling about sexual matters. He is given an opportunity to revisit a more playful, youthful intimate experience when a family friend and school mate makes her move. You could say the lad was one of the lucky ones (wink) but it all does add up to some extra stress on the poor boy.

This movie looks fantastic. All the performances are completely believable, natural, and make the every character we meet intriguing. No one is disposable in this story. I don’t mind subtitles and I love hearing other languages being spoken so the Swedish is just one more thing that makes me like this film. That sounds silly and superficial, but hey, anything that adds to a positive film watching experience is worth mentioning.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes character driven stories. It’s two hours of film watching pleasure.

Value: 8/10
I’m always complaining about the price of DVD’s, but sometimes I get the chance to say a kind word about on the subject. All Things Fair can be found for only $15 online and that’s a pretty good deal. Even if the extras aren’t quite as satisfying as I would like, the movie is well worth the price. Chances are most local rental places won’t have this one on the shelf, so it’s a small investment in the foreign language section of your DVD shelf.

Overall: 7/10
This is one of those DVD’s that really puts a crimp in my scoring method. It’s easy to give a good score to a DVD that has an excellent movie, loads of extras and top quality packaging. It’s even easy to score a DVD with a crappy movie and lousy extras. This is one of those times when the quality of the movie outshines the fact that there are no extras, no commentary, and no special effort in putting together the DVD package. All Things Fair is a beautiful film and that is reason enough to have this DVD in your collection. If you want to find out more about the movie you will have to hunt down that information on your own.

Overall Score 7/10