Britt-Marie Was Here: A Non-Spoiler Review

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Photo montage of scenes from Britt-Marie Was Here. The central image is the theatrical poster for the film.

🇸🇪 BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE 🇸🇪

Britt-Marie Was Here aka Britt-Marie var här (2019) is a Swedish comedy-drama sports film. Amazon Prime Video U.K. & US (free), BBC Iplayer. 1hr 37min. 12 Cert U.K.

Premise:

Britt-Marie, 63 years old, has just left a 40-year-old marriage and her life as a housewife. Being told she is a nagging passive-aggressive aunt, the new, only job, in small-town Borg, will be quite challenging. The small town of Borg has no pride left except the young soccer team and Britt-Marie’s new job is to coach them. This is the start of a journey filled with not only struggles and challenges, but also warmth and love.

Cast:

Pernilla August as Britt-Marie
Peter Haber as Kent
Vera Vitali as Anna
Lancelot Ncube as Sami
Olle Sarri as Fredrik
Malin Levanon as Bank
Anders Mossling as Sven
Mahmut Suvaki as Memo
Cecilia Milocco as Mamma
Stella Oyoko Bengtsson as Vega
Sigrid Högberg as Ingrid
Dion Llapashtica as Paddan
Elliot Alabi Andersson as Omar

English-language theatrical poster for Britt-Marie was here.

Crew:

Director: Tuva Novotny
Writer: Anders Frithiof August, Fredrik Backman (novel), Øystein Karlsen & Tuva Novotny
Cinematographer: Jonas Alarik
Music: Ginge Anvik

Notes:

This film is based on the book by Fredrik Backman (A Man Called Ove).

Locations: Some scenes were filmed at Lödöse, four miles outside of Gothenburg.

Lancelot Ncube won the Zalando Rising Star Award (2020) for his role in the Netflix series Caliphate.

Mahmut Suvaki can be seen in the series Top Dog and Borderliner.

Swedish-language theatrical poster for the film Britt-Marie Was Here

Review:

Having thoroughly enjoyed the film A Man Called Ove and this having some of my favourite actors in it, Britt-Marie Was Here had an immediate appeal. Aside from that I watched the trailer and was keen to watch the whole movie.

Pernilla August as Britt-Marie in an early scene from Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie’s story begins with her controlled, mundane and meticulous routine of housework, laundry, cooking and eating, watching the time and sniffing her husband’s shirts! All this for a man who gives her zero recognition but who is a football enthusiast and unfaithful. This infidelity is only openly revealed by accident (or is it?).

A devastated Britt-Marie finds herself, after a lifetime spending every waking hour running her house for her husband, as a youth worker far from her previous home. The area is deprived and the kids are running wild. She is now their football coach knowing precisely one thing about football “Manchester United” and never, ever having had the desire to kick a ball. They are due to compete in the big annual competition in the area and the big question is, can Britt-Marie turn them into a team?

The kids are great, the adults are relatable and (mostly) redeemable (I still did not like her husband by the end so well-played Peter Haber!) Britt-Marie is challenged with her prejudices in the same way as the children and the other adults are. She, and they, start to see the world rather differently. We even have a potential romance!

The central performance by Pernilla August as Britt-Marie is pitch-perfect. The youngsters are full of life and joy and a certain amount of cheekiness in their performances. The adult supporting actors are really good and I especially enjoyed the performances of Lancelot Ncube (the guy who should be the coach but…) the enthusiastic general store/every job in the town, Mahmut Suvaki, and the endearing Anders Mossling as the man who values Britt-Marie’s real self.

There is another story inside the main arc here, the effect that a family tragedy has upon a child for the rest of her life. Partly this is due to parents’ reactions to the loss. Britt-Marie went from caring for her mother, trying to get her to notice her and gain approval, to caring for her husband, who paid as little attention to her as her mother did – but with far less reason.

Part of this film is about accepting but shaking off the past and actually LIVING! All the wishes and dreams that Britt-Marie has ever had have been subsumed by her role as a housewife.

Pernilla August (Britt-Marie) with Malin Levanon (Bank) in a scene from Britt-Marie Was Here.

For the most part, this story does not deliver any major surprises but nor does it fall into the trap of being overly saccharine and the “success story” of many sports-related films. There is no “I” in team and everyone pulls together to gain success. How you measure success is, however, relative.

A scene from Britt-Marie was here with Anders Mossling (Sven) and Olle Sarri (Fredrik) far left

This is a film that tells its story well. There is a gentleness and warm-heartedness to this story of a woman’s journey to find herself at a time of life where many might dismiss her with a “What’s the point?” The note Britt-Marie posts on the door to the youth centre “Britt-Marie was here” says it all. She has been important in the lives of these children and adults and now it is time for her to go and fulfil her dreams (well one of them at least) and to LIVE!

Pernilla August (Britt-Marie) with Dion Llapashtica (Paddan) Stella Oyoku Bengtsson (Vega) in a scene from Britt-Marie Was Here

Would I recommend Britt-Marie Was Here? If you enjoy gentle drama with a bit of football, a joyful, loving spirit and a journey of self-discovery then, yes, I can.

Pernilla August as Britt-Marie in Britt-Marie Was Here

Awards:

1 nomination ~
Guldbagge Awards (2020) Best Actress ~ Pernilla August

Trailer:

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