🇸🇪 JJ+E 🇸🇪
JJ+E aka Vinterviken (2021) is a new Swedish Netflix Original film. Drama/Romance. 1hr 30min. Cert 15 U.K.
“Two youngsters are raised in the same city, yet they live light-years apart, separated economically, socially and culturally. That is until the day they start in the same high school class.” IMDb
Mustapha Aarab as John John
Elsa Öhrn as Elisabeth
Marika Lagercrantz as Victoria
Magnus Krepper as Frank
Simon Mezher as Jacob
Loreen as Maria
Albin Grenholm as Patrik
Jonay Pineda Skallak as Sluggo
Elsa Bergström Terent as Patricia
Otto Hargne as Karl
Ambra Andela Ugorji as Dunya (credit only)
Director: Alexis Almström
Writers: Dunja Vujovic & Mats Wahl (based on the book)
Music: Vittorio Grasso
Special Effects: Johan Harnesk
Stunts: Janne Lindqist, Johan Lindqvist & Martin Zetterlund
Filming took place in Stockholm, Sweden.
JJ+E is based on the book Vinterviken by Swedish author Mats Wahl which won the German Youth Literature Prize in 1996.
JJ+E is a teen movie and while watching and thinking about it I have borne this strongly in mind. For full disclosure, it is a VERY long time since I was a teenager! However, I do not expect a teen movie to be one designed to appeal to adults who may have watched loads of the genre in the past. Nevertheless, teen films do still need to work as films, so does JJ+E do that?
First a little background… John John (JJ as he is known) comes from a rough area, has a mother with a boyfriend who has an “interesting” past, and close friends (such as his best friend “Sluggo”) who are engaged in some illegal activities and general “laddishness”. Here we have the first part of our romantic couple.
The other part of this couple is Elisabeth who has recently lost her mother and lives with her father, Frank, and little sister in a big, expensive house (with a swimming pool) in the posh suburbs of Stockholm.
It is when our lads including JJ steal a boat (as you do) and take a trip to the other side of the water to the affluent area where Elisabeth lives that their paths first, very briefly, cross. JJ saves her little sister from drowning (some dubious lifesaving rules practised here…) and when he is taken back (with dodgy Sluggo) to the house that says “minted” this is where he and Elisabeth first glimpse each other.
By coincidence, they both get a place at the same, prestigious drama class in the city. At this point, I did feel that this part could have been further developed and explored with more about the acting and how they both, individually took part in the activities. The acting is almost an afterthought to the story (except as a useful part of the plot).
Teenagers do stupid things and will not listen to advice (admittedly advice at the end of physical violence is not a great way to get someone to listen) and both JJ and E do some stupid and irresponsible things. Inevitably betrayals, making silly choices and being easily lead all comes home to roost.
I did really enjoy the performances by the two young leads. Magnus Krepper was good as Elisabeth’s dad. Jonay Pineda Skallak was excellent as Sluggo, as were the actors playing Jakob and Patrik.
The cinematography and the music are both very good, especially the more “socially realistic” scenes in the housing estate etc. There are also some interesting stunts. The scene at a party outside is nicely staged and beautifully lit and was a stand out for me.
JJ+E is a pleasant enough watch for the first two-thirds of the film without being anything special. The characters are interesting enough and there is some chemistry but somehow it just does not quite convey the heart-thumping dizziness of that first, true, passionate love.
The film improves markedly in the final third which inevitably involves more bad decisions, tragedy and an unconventional ending. This is the part of the film that I really enjoyed as the jeopardy was increased and realities invaded the storyline.
I was left with somewhat unclear thoughts as to what the message of the film is, except that you are far more likely to end up arrested, or dead if you come from a deprived background and area…
I would say that JJ+E is worth watching if you can approach it from a teenage perspective and at 90 minutes long it is not a massive investment of time either. We do get to see more of the “other side” of life on the outskirts of Stockholm but I think it could have been still grittier and grottier.
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