Starring: Christine Meltzer, Björn Kjellman, Rodolfo Corsato
Director: Johan Brisinger
Running Time: 93 mins
I Love You (Jag älskar dig) is a Swedish film about a married couple who find themselves in the middle of a turbulent separation, moving apart from each other into new lifestyles despite the responsibilities of their current family.
In a genre that’s often very difficult to get right, I Love You proves to be one of the better divorce comedies out there. Although neither its humour note its emotional value is particularly outstanding, the film has a good heart to it throughout, and offers up a calmer and more level-headed portrayal of divorce.
That’s where I want to start, because the majority of films that deal with major romantic breakups or divorce are more often than not unpleasant, self-loathing and even unnecessarily dark affairs. While the subject matter isn’t always something to celebrate, films in the vein of The Break-Up too often take an aggressive approach to the struggles of divorce, with the two main characters effectively spend the entire film engaged in vicious arguments – hardly the material for an enjoyable comedy-drama.
I Love You, on the other hand, is a much more mellow affair, and rather than simply telling tee story of an unpleasant falling out between husband and wife, the film does well to spread its horizons and look more at how each of the characters cope and react individually.
On the one hand, the wife (played brilliantly by Christine Meltzer), looks at her decision to get divorce as a new lease on life, but despite her initial enthusiasm, responsibilities and her own character make changing her whole life more challenging than she first thought.
On the other hand, the husband (also with a great performance from Björn Kjellman) finds himself struggling to come to terms with what he sees as his wife’s sudden decision to leave him. But again, rather than simply seeing him wallow in self-loathing, we follow his varied attempts to get his wife back, as well as his reluctant but eventually intelligent decision to find a way of accepting this shock.
So, instead of being an hour and a half of a couple just bickering, I Love You focuses well on the two individuals, and with that more level-headed approach that sees their two reactions to divorce play out in a far less selfish and negative way to what we often see from Hollywood, the film proves a surprisingly heartfelt watch, ending on a really lovely note that you wouldn’t expect to see at first.
When it comes to the comedic side of the film, things aren’t quite as strong. The film is light-hearted enough to prove an enjoyable watch, but its main attempts at really making you laugh are generally underwhelming, with far too much in the way of simplistic and predictable Hollywood-style comedy, far from the high standards of clever Swedish humour.
That’s not to say the film’s a boring watch, but if you’re looking to watch this film and laugh throughout, you’ll likely be disappointed. The main entertainment comes from the often absurd situations the characters find themselves in, but that ties in better with the film’s heartwarming drama than the comedy.
Overall, I rather liked I Love You. While it doesn’t quite have the quality of a really funny comedy or an emotionally engrossing drama, the film finds a sweet spot of heartfelt and level-headed drama in an often highly-strung genre that makes for a genuinely enjoyable watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.