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It doesn’t help, either, that Britt-Marie Was Here also has a problematic view of race relations. Most of the kids whom Britt-Marie coaches are children of Middle Eastern immigrants. But while you might be tempted to praise the film for rejecting stereotypes about Sweden’s “whiteness,” its portrayal of non-white characters turns out to be quite condescending. Novotny exoticizes the children, depicting them as figures whose untamed “energy” and “life” benefit “civilized” white people like Britt-Marie.

In some ways, in fact, the problems with Britt-Marie Was Here will remind you of Green Book. Just as the latter didn’t take much interest in its black characters, Novotny’s film doesn’t care about its non-white characters as individuals in their own right. Instead, it develops them only insofar as they help its white protagonist discover her “true self.” In this sense, Britt-Marie Was Here treats its non-white characters as a mere means to an end, as though their own stories, struggles, and individuality mattered less than those of a white person.

There are many other things I could say about Britt-Marie Was Here. Its portrayal of Britt-Marie sometimes feels condescending, several of its plot turns make no sense, and its visuals add nothing that wasn’t already there in the original book. But since it’d take too long to enumerate all of the film’s problems, I’ll just note that my personal reaction to this film appreciably differed from how I usually react to bad films. For me, bad films normally leave me feeling either angry or disappointed. This one, however, simply left me flabbergasted – aghast, in short, at the notion that someone thought that making this film was a good idea.

Britt-Marie Was Here (2019)

Directed: Tuva Novotny

Written: Anders Frithiof August

Starring: Pernilla August, Peter Haber, Anders Mossling, etc.

Movie score: 1/10

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"…challenges the many isms – ageism, sexism, and so forth..."

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