Review: The Car Spotter (Bilskådaren)

Written and directed by Martin Sandin, 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. Starring: Mats Qviström, Ann-Sofie Kylin and Björn Andrésen.

There’s a specific kind of comedy which only seems to come from Scandinavian countries, it’s quirky and weird but never too outside of reality or too outlandish. It’s a balance that when struck right, it makes for such wonderful viewing and Martin Sandin achieves that with The Car Spotter. It’s a little bit silly, a little bit strange and a lot of fun.

It’s a simple story which is filled with these three strong, colourful characters. They have a warmth and wholesomeness to them which creates a big part of that balance between the everyday and the odd. It’s also a classic story, a married couple who’ve been together so long that one of them has let a few too many things fade to the background, leaving their marriage in dire need of an injection of care and enthusiasm. From that comes a lot of sweetness and a surprising amount of sincerity considering the tone stays very much in the comedy arena.

Another big part of that balance is how the film moves, it’s got some fantastic editing work from Viktor Annerstål, who also serves as the film’s cinematographer. It enhances the way that the comedy is delivered and it serves to bring through that touching side of its genuine emotion. There’s a lively, light colouring to it, capturing that small-town community, kindness and charm. Outside of that Sandin’s direction is understated but there’s a great texture and detail to it. The atmosphere nicely reflects the superb sense of humour built by the writing, adding in the perfect touch of awkwardness to the vibe.

Mats Qviström and Ann-Sofie Kylin as Peo and Birgitta make for a hugely relatable, sympathetic and engaging couple. Kylin gives us the more emotional side to this story, her growing sadness at being almost ignored by her husband is touching, and it’s lovely to watch her open up as she finds something to get excited about again. Qviström fits the stubborn husband role to a tee, he’s forgotten what it actually means to be a husband and needs that reminder of what he’s going to lose if he doesn’t shape up. He has a delightful enthusiasm and capturing that moment of realisation is a great moment.

Anyone who’s seen the excellent documentary The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, will have an extra appreciation for how terrific it is to see Björn Andrésen embrace acting again. He brings out his lighter side and has fun with this character, who has that classic feel of swooping in to charm the local wives when he catches the husbands slipping.

The Car Spotter is an utter delight, it’s sweet with the perfect touch of odd. The leading trio fill the film with a wholesome, kind energy and they’re a joy to watch. It’s paced sublimely, it’s well edited, the direction is understated but brings a strong atmosphere and the story is extremely fun.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯✯ | 10/10

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