People have been trying to make gold artificially for as long as the gleaming metal has been used to pay bills or back major currencies. Fool’s gold has the same outward lustre but its value is only skin deep. Having a heart of gold is a noble thought (even if that means the weight of it causes certain drowning for anyone in over their heads), but—like the fake mineral—too many who appear to be saints are eventually unmasked as heinous sinners: their glitter tarnished forever.
Director/writer Ella Lemhagen has created a fanciful world as she explores various aspects of kronjuvelerna (the crown jewels) from the allure of manufacturing untold wealth, to the most prized (and in many cases frustratingly unattainable) body part of men. In the former, Michalis Koutsogiannakis gives a sympathetic portrayal of Fernandez Fernandez, a Father of Invention whose personal chemistry produces first a precocious girl (a trio of actors take on the role of Fragancia with equal aplomb) who opts to become a hockey star in her dad’s “everything is possible” galaxy, then (defying the luck of the number 7) a challenged son, born into the world with Down Syndrome (Jesper Lindberger is innocently picture perfect). In the latter, a butcher’s son, Pettersson-Jonsson, turned figure skater emerges to become the Wayne Gretzky with pirouettes, scoring goals abroad to thrill his country until the golden-haired superstar opts to set up house with NHL sensation Goldie Bernhard, grinding Fragancia’s lingering lust and longing into pixie dust.
Sadly the film’s early promise (with a fantastical mood and tone replete with Hansel and Gretel-like gothic intrigue, to the watery voice of those who have prematurely left the planet but not the depths of humanity—living or dead—lingering just below the surface of reality) collapses under its own metaphorical weight. While having Goldie’s nickname coined because of his extra-expensive fillings verges on the saccharine, further setting him up as black and gay steps right into the penalty box of too many forced images on the ice. (Their on-ice smooch—a kiss that would ring around the world and cause Mt. Don Cherry to erupt—also pushes the envelope of the film’s theme of possibility.)
After all of the tragedies have unfolded, the final miracle of revelation shows its obvious head far before the camera captures the penultimate gleaming array of a golden lining (silver would just not do…) to soothe the soul.
Oh yes, there’s a murder mystery to solve along with a shoe factory owner (Loa Falkman revels brilliantly playing the biggest bully in the world) together with his head-in the-clouds stockroom employee (Fernandez) squaring off as rival fathers. Not surprisingly, the footwear baron’s only son (a dismal failure at fulfilling his father’s wish of reaching the hockey heights that so effortlessly come to the gay blade), Richard (the eldest of three actors— Bill Skarsgård—does the best with what he’s been given), has learned his dad’s hateful lessons all too well, only to cheat his due from a most incredible angle.
The film looks (Anders Bohman’s expert eye floods the screen with a bounty of images seamlessly stitched together—notably the journeys into and out of “water world”—by Thomas Lagerman) and sounds (with a melodic nod to “Che sera, sera,” and orchestration that knows Verdi and Satie, Fredrik Emilson’s original score—special mention to bassoonist Henrik Blizt—is a pleasure at every turn) better than it “reads.”
Fragancia being forced to abandon her hapless brother in order to drive him into the clutches of an uncaring gang fails on all counts. With that unbelievable act the film’s possibility slipped over the abyss, never to be heard from again. JWR