THE SWEDISH THEORY OF LOVE || 2015, Sweden || Documentary || Directed by – Erik Gandini / Written by – Erik Gandini / Running time: 90 mins.
There has never been a better time than now to reflect upon the concept of individualism. Erik Gandini’s latest documentary, The Swedish Theory of Love, reveals that this way of living somwhat originated by a social engineering project promoted by Swedish politicians in 1972. The project argued that the way to built a better future society was by focusing of individual happiness, therefore looking at relatioships, including family ties, as a type of hinderance to be frowned upon. Almost forty years later, this essay documentary looks at the repercussion of these theories, and the way these repercussions can be seen in today’s world.
The tone of The Swedish Theory of Love is driven by slight satire. This can be noticed in the way it is meticulously shot, using a cinematic style including tracking shots and pans, contrasting with the more serious an immediate impact of handheld cameraworks in the sequences that aim to openly oppose this titular theory. Occasionally, certain sequences take place in bare rooms that hint at a surreal futuristic world. This satirical approach is openly provocative, especially when dealing with topics such as artificial insemination. In this particular part of the film, the lack of physicality finds the process juxtaposed with midshots of men masturbating as they promote themselves as champions of the cause.
Later on in the film, we see a sympathetic portrayal of a polar opposite idea of “modern living” in an african region where people literally depend upon each other as means of survival. In this instant, we find a Swedish doctor, disenchanted with the modern lifestyle of his country, who found refuge in this region where he opposes both by will and need scientific advancements and creates makeshift medical solutions for the medical purposes.
While the film succeeds in its provocation, its structural arch is a little too loose. In other words, its patchwork can occasionally be alienating. In the end, The Swedish Theory of Love‘s tone, despite its aforementioned use fo satire and provocation, leads to thought provoked interaction with its viewers. Ironically, however, its message will affect individuals more than specific categories or groups of people. – 3/5