Sweden/Japan, 1988, 87 min.

director.gif (905 bytes)Kjell-Åke Andersson 


Dennis Christopher - John
Edita Brychta - Sally
Anita Wall - Jennifer
Stellan Skarsgård -Matt
Lena Olin - Sue
Helena Bergström - Bonnie
Sven Wolter - Zeb


6 May 1988 [Sweden]

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John (Dennis Christopher) is a legal assistant who investigates divorce cases in this offbeat comedy drama. He looks forward to marriage to his fiancee Sally (Edith  Brychta), but his daydream is interrupted when a model plane crashes through his window. A bratty kid enters the room, followed by the child's parents, another brother, two daughters and the grandmother.

The family ignores John's protests and threats to call the police. Although he has never seen these people before, everyone assures John he is among friends. He is seduced by the oldest daughter, and the son make a pass at Sally before the youngest daughter makes a pass at John. His once-predictable world is turned upside down with the arrival of his mysterious "friends."

button_box.gif (205 bytes)ACCOLADES:

Won a Guldbagge for Best Cinematography by Peter Mokrosinski

button_box.gif (205 bytes)PRODUCTION NOTES:

Friends is based on a 1967 play written by Japanese novelist, dramatist and photographer Kôbô Abé. The major themes of his work are the alienation of the individual, the loss of identity, and the absurdity of human existence, which has engendered comparisons to Kafka, Beckett and Harold Pinter. In Friends, though the members of the family who invade this apartment claim to be devoting themselves to social good, their actions are cruelly destructive. This collaboration between Japan and Sweden was wrought with production problems. In the end the Japanese producer had first-time director Kjell-Ake Andersson write the film's script. It was filmed in 1988 in both Stockholm and in Calgary, Canada.

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Scene from "Friends"

button_box.gif (205 bytes)DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF FILM:

This is an absurdist play about strangers taking over a person's house and home. At night in the city, a family of eight emerges from nowhere. It comprises the 80-year-old grandmother, the gentlemanly-looking father, the mother, the eldest son who used to be a private detective, the second son who used to be an amateur actor, the spinsterly eldest daughter, the pure and attractive second daughter, and the impish youngest daughter. Their mission is to find lonely residents in the city and offer friendship.

One night, this family visits a man in his apartment unit and finds an excuse to enter his rooms. The man angrily accuses them of illegal entry and calls the police. The two policemen who arrive and the landlord write him off as deluded and leave. The family members prepare dinner, start fights, and gradually take over the household. The man suddenly realizes that the eldest brother has stolen his wallet, but the father rationalizes his son's actions as a means of managing the man's wealth. The family members continue their barrage of rationalization in every way possible; the man finally gives in and offers them his money and belongings in exchange for their departure.

Singing the "Broken Necklace" song, the family emphasizes the happiness of togetherness. However, the man persists in his desire to be alone. Furthermore, the man turns out to have a fiancée. She is becoming suspicious of the changes in him and visits his home to question him. But the family members get around her, too. Persuaded by the eldest daughter, the man gives up trying to drive out the family and tries to escape instead. His attempt is discovered and he is shut up in a cage. Locked up, the man gradually loses interest in the outer world of work and in his fiancée. When he is about to get hold of the key to the cage from the second daughter, he dies from a moment of excessive joy. Saying, "If he had only not been so defiant, we would only have been good neighbors to him," the second daughter laments his death. The family members gather together, march out of the apartment, and disappear into thin air.