Starring: Dennis Axnér, Robert Bengtsson, Veselko Bedi
Director: Måns Månsson
Running Time: 80 mins
The Yard (Yarden) is a Swedish film about a writer who is dropped by a publisher after he openly criticises his own work. Stuck without work, he eventually takes up a job at a nearby shipyard.
Mundane is the name of the game here. A deliberate decision by the filmmakers to show the subtly soul-destroying nature of day-to-day work, this is a very slow, quiet and uneventful watch. Whilst that doesn’t always work in its favour, I have to say that if you stick with The Yard, you can find some intrigue, something that I didn’t expect come the end of this film.
Before you go into this film, though, do know that it does require good patience. I can’t say it’s the most rewarding watch, and you’ll definitely struggle if you’re not up for something so slow and quiet, however if you do go into this with that all in mind, there is still quite a lot to intrigue you.
For example, the film is an impressive exercise in gradually building drama and tension. As slow and seemingly mundane as the first two acts are, they mirror the dull life of our main character as he seeks to cope after being thrown out of his job. Throughout, as the film drags on, a sense of frustration begins to creep in to your psyche as well, allowing you to sympathise far more with the main character.
Also, the film’s final act is very engaging. In the end, the whole thing is about a slow build to an eventual burst of drama, and although it comes quite late on, it felt worth the wait. As underwhelming as I found the first two acts, the way in which the story starts to tie together, and we get a bit of dramatic conflict happening, rather than just the dull and frustrated life of our main character, things get a lot more interesting.
Another plus here is the lead performance. Dennis Axnér does a great job in the lead role, portraying his character’s sense of deep frustration, bordering on depression, after things start to go so unbelievably wrong for him. It’s not a melodramatic performance, quite the opposite in fact, so he really does make for compelling watching.
With all that said, I can’t say that I fully loved The Yard. Whilst its slow, quiet and mundane nature is entirely deliberate, and its final act is a satisfying payoff for about a fifty minute wait, the fact still remains that a large portion of this film just isn’t that engrossing. Maybe on second viewing, it could have a little more relevance, but I simply felt a little too bored by the excessively dull and inert story that plays out over the first two acts of this movie.
Overall, I have to say that The Yard, whilst a focused, well-directed and well-acted film, isn’t a drama that will set your world alight. Its final act is pretty impressive, and I admired its decision to go for such a boldly slow and quiet atmosphere for the majority of its duration, but in the end, it’s just not quite as engrossing as I felt it should be, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.