Review: Last Weekend with Jenny and John (Sista helgen med Jenny och John)

Written and directed by Jimmy Olsson, it’s the weekend when John and his daughter Jenny go to Motala for a basketball game that Jenny is going to play. It’s the weekend when John gets replaced at his job. It’s the weekend when Jenny wants to stop playing basketball and be more with her friends. It’s the weekend when everything about the relationship between Jenny and John is going to change. It’s the last weekend with Jenny and John. Starring: Mattias Nordkvist and Gry Eriksson.

Jumping straight in with the nostalgic ratio Jimmy Olsson chose for Last Weekend with Jenny and John, it’s already adding that hint of sweetness and sentimentality. It’s the starting note for the symphony of different ways that the aesthetic of this film enhances the emotion of the story. A big part of that is how beautifully detailed and crisp the visual is, it has a depth which perfectly matches the tone of the story and helps to build a layered atmosphere. The shot choices have a thoughtful quality, taking in the potential of the surroundings to add to that atmosphere, similar to the way that Kogonada uses architecture. At the same time it holds a hint of sadness, capturing the struggle of being a parent to a pre-teen, to find the delicate balance between holding them too tight and giving them too much space.

There’s a simplicity to capturing that relationship which when done well is a touching thing to experience, and Last Weekend with Jenny and John is a fantastic example. It examines the complexity of it without getting its feet caught up in the minutiae. It’s relatable and sympathetic, Olsson creates a father figure who has sensitivity and genuinely listens. Yet he comes with his own flaws as it wouldn’t be believable if he was entirely perfect. That’s why the story works so well, it feels very authentic and modern, tapping into a healthy father-daughter relationship in modern society, and it will never be completely smooth sailing. The way that it creates the layers to this story through the acting, writing and direction means that it can be subtle and in doing so it creates an endearing sincerity.

Mattias Nordkvist and Gry Eriksson are effortlessly convincing as our titular John and Jenny, they immediately establish that complicated relationship. It has the usual push and pull, trying to spend time together but not wanting to do it out of obligation. Nordkvist captures the typical frustrations and exasperations but also brings patience and kindness to the table. Eriksson portrays the usual obsession with technology and urge to get away from your parents but holds onto an inkling of compassion. It’s sweet to watch these characters work at finding neutral ground, there’s a great amount of emotion at play but it also never tries to be overtly complex, the layers that they help to unfold are incredibly natural.

Last Weekend with Jenny and John is a charming exploration of the father, daughter relationship. Mattias Nordkvist and Gry Eriksson present perfectly relatable characters and move flawlessly through the different obstacles that any teen presents their parents. Jimmy Olsson’s direction, alongside Anna Smoronová’s cinematography, is genuinely stunning, with superb shot choices, excellent locations and an endearing yet layered atmosphere. It delves into how quickly time passes and while parents may not want to force their children to spend time with them, they also don’t want to let those key moments fly right past them. It’s sweet, kind and holds a wonderful depth to really drive home its emotion.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

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