Suddenly ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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Photo montage of scenes from the film Suddenly. Central image is the theatrical poster for the film.


Suddenly (2006) aka Underbara älskade is a Swedish film available on Netflix U.K. 1 hr 36 min. Cert 12 U.K. Swedish with English subtitles.


The mother and the younger son in a happy family die in a car accident. The father and the teenage son, Jonas, survive the accident. Now they have to move on with their lives together.


Michael Nyqvist as Lasse
Anastasios Soulis as Jonas
Moa Gammel as Helena
Catherine Hansson as Lotta
Philip Zandén as Simon
Sten Ljunggren as Sven
Anita Wall as Ingegerd
Carl Ljunggren as Erik
Teresia Björk as Mother
Stig Engström as Lage
Johan H:son Kjellgren as Dr. Bauer

English-language poster for the film Suddenly (2006)


Director: Johan Brisinger
Writers: Johan Brisinger, Mikael Bengtsson
Composer: Henrik Lörstad
Cinematographer: Henrik Stenberg
Editor: Stephan Walfridsson


Johan Brisinger has directed episodes of Thicker Than Water and Moscow Noir and is due to direct the upcoming Roslund & Hellström: Cell 8 (see Box 21).

Anastasios Soulis was awarded the Rising Star Award at the Stockholm Film Festival 2009

Location: Stockholm, Stockholms län

Swedish-language poster for the film Suddenly (2006)


Earlier this year Netflix U.K. bought in a whole load of Swedish films of which Suddenly was just one. Here was my chance to watch a feature film with the late, great – and sorely missed – actor Michael Nyqvist along with Moa Gammel and Anastasios Soulis in early roles in their career.

Suddenly starts with a tragedy when a car crashes and two members of a close and happy family die. What happens next is a slow burn story of how a man, Lasse, and his surviving son, Jonas, cope with the grief of losing their wife/mother and son/brother.

Michael Nyqvist as Lasse in a scene from Suddenly

Lasse escapes the crash physically unharmed whereas Jonas bears multiple visible scars from the accident. Both carry enormous guilt and psychological scars and are “stuck” in their own grief barely communicating with each other.

Lasse decides, following advice from a doctor after an incident involving self-prescribed drugs (Lasse is an eye doctor himself) used to self-medicate, to take his son away to their summer house by the sea. Here they find objects that spark memories, and Lasse sets himself a project of repairing and repainting an old sailing dinghy. This dingy is symbolic and is worth bearing in mind as it appears during the film. Lasse’s energies go into the repair of this dingy more than into repairing his broken son, himself and their relationship.

Anastasios Soulis as Jonas (Front) with Teresia Björk as Mother in a scene from Suddenly

As this story plays out we see how the seemingly well-meaning help and interference of relatives can be anything but helpful as the bereaved man and his son struggle to move on from the devastating loss they have suffered.

Lasse hits the bottle at Midsommar in a way that is spectacularly embarrassing and clearly shows what a dreadful emotional state he is in.

Meanwhile, Jonas, a talented pianist who we see run out of a concert at school, unable to perform, months after the fatal accident meets up with the young, free-spirited and beautiful Helena. Helena has family-related demons of her own. But at first, they spend their time swimming (Jonas fully clothed) and lounging around on the beach eventually going to the house that Helena is renting from the owner of the store where she works.

Moa Gammel as Helena in a scene from Suddenly

While grief is explored deeply in this story it is the healing power of time and love that struck me most. Lasse is loved (there is a hint of an illicit affair years beforehand) and so is Jonas. They are loved by others and they love each other. It is when, finally, Lasse and Jonas talk about their grief and their feelings around that (the guilt, the blame, the “hatred”, that isn’t) and reconnect that we know that they are going to be alright and will be able to constructively continue with their lives.

Michael Nyqvist’s performance in this is outstanding as the man who is left completely numb and broken by his devastating loss and grief. We see his character develop as the story progresses and we understand where his mind is at, including the enormous rage which he eventually lets surface.

A young Anastasios Soulis is fantastic as Jonas and his chemistry with Moa Gammel as Helena is tangible. Moa Gammel too impresses with a nuanced performance. My favourite scene is where Jonas is, finally, playing the old, discarded piano in her house.

I liked the music in Suddenly and there is some great cinematography and editing. Some of the locations and scenery are stunning and I would love to stay in the house on the beach.

Michael Nyqvist (right) as Lasse and Anastasios Soulis (left) as Jonas in a scene from Suddenly

Suddenly is not a film that is full of action and parts made me physically cringe (as they are intended to) and I suspect that anyone wanting melodrama and “action” will find this not to their taste. I, however, found this a very interesting and engaging film. As a first feature for this director it is very impressive. There was also so much poignancy for me throughout this watching the late Michael Nyqvist. Recommended.


2 Wins 1 Nomination

Guldbagge Awards (2007) Audience Award, Johan Brisinger
Lübeck Nordic Film Days (2007) Audience Prize of the “Lübecker Nachtrichten” Johan Brisinger

Trailer (sorry no subtitles):

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