Swedish director Roy Andersson concludes a trilogy (Songs from the Second Floor, and You, the Living) with a series of vignettes that travel the range of humanity, observing the comic absurdity of the existential in a way that is honest, hilarious, and (somehow) encouraging. There’s a healthy dose of Beckett here, and Louis C.K., all seen through imagery recalling Edward Hopper. That imagery is the first sign that this is an auteur at the height of his game.
Irreducible to advertising, the entire trilogy has received limited release in North America, even as it is hailed by critics as a masterpiece in our time. In this droll finale to the series, Andersson expands further upon the same ambitious theme: what it means to be human. The results were enough to beat out Birdman for top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Each vignette presents a painterly composition before it is set off by the slightest action: a raised hand, a muttered line. And the vignettes build, varying in tempo and subject, falling in on each other, slipping through dreams and past the fourth wall before delivering a stunning final frame that comes too soon.
“The Swedish master of comic absurdity.” Peter Debruge, Variety
“Weird and wonderful…” Kate Muir, The Times
“This is untranslatable cinema.” Robbie Collin, The Telegraph