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DVD Review: ‘A Swedish Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy’

★☆☆☆☆

Not to be confused with Woody Allen’s 1982 feature A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy, or Äntligen midsommar! (2009) as it is known in Sweden, is the latest offering from director Ian McCrudden. First things first; here’s what the synopsis in the press notes has to say:

“A beautiful waterfront house, a Swedish flag fluttering in the wind. A sailboat tied to the wooden deck below. This is the setting of the friends’ annual Midsummer celebrations. The friends are gathered at Emil’s (Daniel Gustavsson) family house and the herring lunch, sauna, games and compulsory skinny dipping are as always prepared. Expectations are set – Micke (Alexander Karim) worries about his highly pregnant wife and the fastest way to the nearest hospital.

Eva (Anna Littorin) is looking for some distraction from her recent split with Patrick (Per Wernolf) and Sam (Luke Perry). Emil’s college buddy from the States arrives with his own expectations of Swedish sin. Wannabe singer-songwriter Anders (Olle Sarri) hasn’t told his wannabe pregnant girlfriend Maria (Annica Bejhed) about his low sperm count and hopes to solve the problem over the weekend. To top it off Emil’s surprise seems to lift the party to unprecedented heights. If everything had gone according to plan that is.”

Cheap, asinine and austerely dull, at 93 minutes A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy runs for about 92 minutes too long. There is a plethora of reasons of why this is the case, but if it had to be placed on one overwhelming factor it would come to rest on two words: Luke Perry. Not only does this man have the talent of a dog biscuit, he also effectively manages to worsen an already excruciatingly bad film. His role as Sam is perhaps the most algesic affair I have experienced this year, and I am praying that the rest of 2011 doesn’t offer anything as audio-visually worse.

Even with Perry’s shortcomings, you would still expect some redeeming performances within the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, the rest of this motley crew are sadly devoid of talent and there isn’t a single moment where empathy is evoked. Instead, the spectator is dragged through a story that has no emotive impact, no narrative intrigue and whose scriptwriter is in desperate need of revising the semantics of comedy – a crucial directorial error lying in the fact that Ian McCrudden manages to render every scene tediously unamusing.

It’s not often that you come across a film where the casting department actively despise their profession, but A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy perfectly fits this bill, the crew’s autophobia appearing most prominently in the hiring of Luke Perry as a central character. How they came to this decision I honestly don’t know, but Perry’s Sam stands as the embodiment of everything wrong about this film. Within a few minutes of screen-time he demonstrates a clear transparency, complete unlikability, and unwholesome self-obsessiveness that stands as perhaps one of the most sublime sights of debilitation for any viewer.

Alongside this, crass comic relief tries to endorse itself within another main character’s impotence, a problem which has resulted in his wife hating him (finely tuned hilarity if I do say so myself). In essence, what tries to present itself as a feel good comedy plays out like my idea of a dystopian nightmare where self-indulgent, surreptitious and bleak characters find companionship in one another. 

Stephen Leach