EUFF 2018 Review: “A Serious Game” (2016) ★★★

What does love bring other than happiness? While it may be full of joy for one, it may bring sadness to the other one. At the end of the day, it all comes to society, its morals, demands of the time, and how the two handle it as they both change as years go by. Adapted from Hjalmar Söderberg’s novel, “A Serious Game”, written back in 1912, it tells the story of a man and a woman who fall for each other when they were too young, but eventually separate and get married to others.

Arvid is a young and promising journalist who gets his first assignment to review an opera. Lydia is a young and innocent girl, the daughter of a painter. This is the time when the two meet each other. When their hands did not even get the chance to touch each other, their hearts began dictating their will, while the economic situation and the ambiguity of Arvid tells otherwise. He confesses being deeply in love with her, but is still unable to marry her as he has nothing much to offer. But when her father dies, Lydia needs the support she finds in a man much older than her, who’s financially stable enough to lend her the required support. The two go separate ways, but years later they will meet each other again. But the two know too little that time has already changed them, to a degree they’re yet to find out.

As the years pass by, they both have children, but aren’t too happy in their marriages. It is Lydia who approaches Arvid first while he fights with morality and the promise he made to his wife to remain faithful. However, he realizes there’s one battle he will never be able to win – to stop loving Lydia. He is clear in his intentions that he cannot abandon his marriage. Lydia is much more brave and bold. She leaves her husband and even her daughter to go back to the man whom she loves, but as a mistress. But nothing’s that simple as the two know well when the time comes they will  have to make a choice – to stay together or leave. Not much changes until the moment when another man falls for Lydia, who’s strong enough to take his own life.

Arvid is a very intriguing character. He is strong and weak at the same time. He knows what he wants, yet knows nothing about himself. He was in love with Lydia before his marriage, during and even after. The affair he has with the love of his life forces the couple to reflect upon the time passed. They already know they are different. Their values have changed, and the love they have for each other has matured in a sense when they ask each other whether all of it is worth it.

Sverrir Gudnason portraying Arvid and Karin Franz Korlof as Lydia, “A Serious Game” is an incredible love story that puts to test the feeling of love itself. There are much more confrontations, unanswered questions, and the passion that once slows down its temper, brings up the true picture of reality. Indeed, stories like “A Serious Game” are no longer being written nowadays. In the end, it’s the beautiful imagery, cinematography and a dark tone that delivers an unusual relationship, thanks to the director Pernilla August, we can fully feel throughout.





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