KEILLERS PARK (Susanna Edwards, 2006)

Written less than convincingly by Pia Gradvall although directed with brio by Susanna Edwards, Keillers Park is a gay-themed love story and homicide thriller from Sweden. After his arrest for the shooting death of his lover, Algerian immigrant Nassim Ghabbar, Peter comes to grips with the overwhelming circumstantial evidence against him by flashing back over their history together, which canceled his marriage, estranged him from his businessman father and other family, and nurtured his emotional dependency on Nassim by way of compensation for burned bridges. Edwards and director of photography Robert Nordstrom—their film was transferred to 35mm from digital video—employ switches back and forth between color and black and white, and within color between full color and monochromes like flashing neon to convey Peter’s upheaved life, disorientation, discombobulation. It all works beautifully.
     The film’s anchor is Mårten Klingberg’s intriguing performance as Peter, whose loss of his father’s love and acceptance once his new “double life” becomes known occasions another superlative performance, by Gösta Bredefeldt, as one who, implacable, feels his trust and lifelong emotional investment have been irretrievably betrayed. Edwards refuses to turn Juris Feldmanis into some sort of villain while all the while maintaining principal sympathy for Peter. The result is another coup: although remaining a distinctly minor piece of work, Keillers Park avoids soap opera except for one indigestible fleeting moment involving wife Maria’s inadvertently ridiculous response to Peter’s unaccustomed overture of anal intercourse.
     The title refers to Nassim’s self-identified bench in the Gothenburg park that becomes the young men’s point of rendezvous. The deaths of both his father and his lover leave Peter with no other inheritance than this public bench to which so much private emotion has become attached. It survives as the ordinary symbol of his inconsolable loss.

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