The Girl is a delicate and profound Swedish film with always a hint of peril lurking on its edges. The title character is nine years old and is left behind at the family house in the Swedish countryside while her parents and brother try volunteer work in Africa. But no problem, the dad will get his totally crazy sister to look after the girl so everything will be fine! The sister is one of those people who say things like, “I have to take care of myself now…” and she soon disappears on a sailing trip with her boyfriend (secretly instigated by the girl, who sends a ransom note style letter to the boyfriend). The girl is not sneaky but terribly young and naïve and she would rather look after herself than look after herself and her aunt. At first she feels totally capable but as time passes she starts to go a little wild – covering herself in dirt, mixing cocktails and telling lies. She admits to her neighbor “I’m pretty lonely.”
The Girl is a reminder how little time alone is needed before children start to develop in weird ways. In this way it reminded me a little of the Scottish film Ratcatcher (which concerns a young boy left mostly to his own devices) but with less of a cruel, dangerous edge. There is cruelty in this film, introduced by a girl in town and her cosmopolitan cousin who lip synch Abba songs and terrorize a local boy.
In great films there is a transcendent moment when the cinematography, acting, story and underlying message all coalesce into a dizzying emotional impact. In The Girl that moment involves an emergency landing by a hot air balloon. As the nameless girl Blanca Engström is startling and her increasingly dirt tangled strawberry blonde hair is an indicator of how far she is from civilization.
There is a weird trailer interview thing here. It's on on the 7th at 1pm and the 8th at 7:15, both at the Granville.