Warriors of love is a Swedish film that carries with it all the clichés that one immediately thinks of when discussing art house cinema from that country. It’s shot in black and white, moodily lit, grainy and largely motionless, the camerawork resolutely static. It feels as if the director has gone to sleep sometimes, so long are the sections where action and dialogue are replaced by a meaningful stare or a twitch of the face. There’s minimalism and then there’s the school of filmmaking called “nothing happens at all” which at times certainly characterizes this movie. There might be a great short in here waiting to get out but then again there might not even be that.
The plot has been described as a “lesbian Romeo and Juliet”. After a nice montage of landscapes, which is about as visual as the film ever gets, we are introduced to two young girls, Ida and Karin, both sitting in silence on a train. There’s a lot of sitting in silence , did I mention that? Karin is dark haired, overweight while Ida is tall slim, blonde and good-looking. They are already a couple (who have clearly run out of conversation) and are on their way to confront Ida’s father who sexually abused her when she was younger. Must have been the oppressive silence around the dinner table.
It doesn’t get much easier than this, the only two characters we ever see are these two girls, although the distant voices of other characters do occasionally break the fuggy silence. The plot is wafer thin and to discuss it any further would be to give everything away. This is clearly planned as a character piece but it’s art house sensibilities overwhelm the story and render it into a largely disjointed mass of vignettes. On the plus side,. Both actress are very good, bringing some humanity to their roles, not easy in a film so stylized.
With the basic theme of a problem being found, explored and resolved, there really isn’t much to this movie. Maybe I was missing something but what I felt could potentially have been a very interesting two hander story was ruined by the filmmakers not quite knowing what they wanted to do with it. There are some nice dialogue exchanges scattered throughout but all in all this just confirms the general public’s view that art films are on the whole, incomprehensible and boring tosh.
Which is a shame!
Director: Simon Staho
Cast: Josefin Ljungman, Shima Niavarani