Bilskådaren (The Car Spotter) is an utter delight from beginning to end. Martin Sandin has made a wonderful mockumentary that promises nonstop laughs.
Peo loves spotting cars. It gives his everyday life a little twist. It’s also a hobby that is about to ruin the most important thing he has.
There are many hobbies out there, bird watching train watching. I have seen many a person down by the port when I am on a run Lorry watch, but the humble car spotter has evaded our consciousness. Here in Martin Sandin’s latest film, we witness the trials and tribulations of what happens when a hobby becomes closer to an obsession. But somehow, in Bilskådaren, he manages to do it in the most fantastically sweet and odd manner.
Bilskådaren is just the right amount of daft, a film that could only be Scandinavian with its sensibilities and humour. But what makes it all work so well is how Sandin constructs the film. Placing it in a mockumentary premise rather than a straight-up film allows for specific decisions to be made. The little looks to the camera when someone is proud of themselves for the characters to act a little more over the top than you would want in real life. (In no way would Björn Andrésen’s Lennart otherwise make the goofiest run over to Birgitta).
Even the whole premise of Bilskådaren leaves you laughing, so desperate is Poe to see an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that accidentally begins to torpedo his marriage to the lovely Brigitta. He is more inclined to sit on the side of a road outside his town and wait for his dream car to drive by, to the point where he even mimics the vehicle driving by him, thanks to a photo on his phone. It is all oh so very preposterous, but at the same time, wholly believable that you buy it. Of course, he would put off going out on a Saturday into town with his car spot; that is when the weekend drivers are out taking their vintage cars out for a drive! It’s farcical but wonderful all at once.
Mats Qvistrom plays the charming but clueless Peo splendidly. So ignorant of his wife and her emotions that he dawdles along at his own happy pace. Qvistrom’s enthusiasm, especially in the final minutes, epitomises the character. So full of boyish excitement that things he should catch slip by him. Thankfully, even if it takes him a while to finally click that Birgitta has been trying to make him jealous of Lennart’s advance, we see the true side to the character. He is a man who just got a little too consumed but thankfully saw the light right at the right moment.
Ann-Sofie Kylin is, of course, the heart of the film, playing the oft-maligned Birgitta to a tee. Her sadness seeps through the screen. She just wants her husband to spend time with her and do something they both could like together. So when the active Lennart does come by, she sees someone seemingly at least invested in her, which becomes a tempting option for her. Importantly, though, she is resolute in giving Peo a chance after chance to be the man she married all those years ago. While given the emotional task, Kylin also has a tonne of comedic moments herself.
With Björn Andrésen, he isn’t given a whole lot to do in Bilskådaren. Still, he commands the screen when he does appear, be it with his running style and hilarious way of giving a thumbs up or how he stands alone at a river; you are drawn to him still. For those who did watch The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, you will be happy to see a talent like him in full working mode.
A tiny bit of inside baseball here, but I received Bilskådaren in a link from Sandin that said, “Smiles are guaranteed” I was dubious, but damn if he wasn’t right. This is a joy to behold; from the perfect casting to the editing, everything about this film feels like a warm, humorous hug. You will not be disappointed here; sit back and enjoy.
The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.
For more information go to www.hollyshorts.com
Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:
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