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”Diorama” Film Review

Swedish director Tuva Novotny’s third film ”Diorama” is entertaining and thought-provoking. But there is also something missing.

”Diorama” discusses human sexual relationships in a playful and creative manner. Why is it that humans, despite the fact that the vast majority of relationships come to an end sooner or later, keep looking for monogamous relationships in spite of these odds?

Frida (Pia Tjeltja) and Björn (David Dencik) meet at a party, magic happens and a passionate between them begins. However, when we return to them many years later, things have changed. They are now parents of three kids, living a stressful day to day life with work, house chores and raising their children. The initial magic that sparked their once passionate relationship is long gone. The odds are definitely not on their side either. 60% of marriages end in divorce, as the movie tells us. From here, their marriage is only beset with one problem after the other.

The central drama of Frida and Björn’s crumbling marriage is without a doubt the strongest aspect of the film. Actors Pia Tjeltja and David Dencik do a phenomenal job in their roles. The directing and writing is also solid, and the film’s story progresses in a way that constantly ups the drama and the tension. However, the movie also falters a bit when it sets out to deal with the central question it asks: why do we keep searching for monogamous relationships when they so often end in failure?

Unfortunately, this is done in a way that detracts from the main story a little too much. Frida and Björn’s story is interrupted many times as the movie cuts to scenes of actors in animal suits discussing what has just happened between them. Could the behaviour of animals such as chickens, lions and voles explain why their marriage is crumbling, and why they both look for relationships elsewhere and want to keep their marriage going at the same time. Maybe. It is an interesting and playful take, but the way it is done feels forced, and interrupts the central story of Frida and Björn, which is by far the most interesting part of the film.

Perhaps using the central story would have been enough to discuss this. The near-constant interruptions to draw parallels between what Frida and Björn are experiencing and the behaviour of animals becomes repetetive by the end. Nonetheless, ”Diorama” is an entertaining watch. It is playful, well acted and asks intriguing questions. Fortunately, this takes the movie pretty far, and going to see it is definitely worthwhile.

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