Under The Sun

on August 03, 2001 by Jordan Reed
   Forty-year-old Olof (Rolf Lassgard) has little companionship on the farm he took over after his mother's death. His lone friend, the young Erik (Johan Widerberg), comes around every so often to take care of bookkeeping chores the illiterate farmer can't handle on his own. But Olof desires a substantial relationship with the fairer sex, and a lack of options forces him to place an ad in the local paper. Hardly beating around the bush, he refers to himself as lonely, requests a young woman and asks for a photograph. As luck would have it, the beautiful Ellen (Helena Bergstrom) responds. Romance soon blooms (despite Olof's initial trepidation--he's a virgin), much to Erik's consternation, as Ellen soon makes it clear she's suspicious of his financial arrangement with her new beau. But Ellen herself is not all she appears, and Erik is determined to uncover the truth, his old friend's newfound joy be damned.

   After the blessedly short, high-concept conceit of beautiful-woman-responding-to-desperate-ad is out of the way, "Under The Sun"--based on the short story "The Little Farm" by H.E. Bates--gains strength. Especially solid is Olof's initiation into physical and emotional love. Erotic without soft-core silliness and containing the realistic stutter-steps of a sexual neophyte, the eventual consummation is handled with class, as are Olof's respectful longing and the couple's increasingly tender relationship.

   "Under The Sun" also boasts fine performances, from the bear-like Lassgard's gently reticent Olof to Bergstrom's sexy, conflicted Ellen. But Widerberg has the juiciest role, and he makes the most of it. As the doubly-slighted Erik--not only is he losing his companion/meal ticket Olof, but Ellen resists his advances--Widerberg resembles a young Rutger Hauer, his icy blue eyes physically confirming a calculating, heartless venality thinly masked by a know-it-all smirk. All three actors combine to help make Colin Nutley's bizarre love triangle an engrossing one. Starring Rolf Lassgard, Helena Bergstrom and Johan Widerberg. Directed and produced by Colin Nutley. Written by Colin Nutley, Johanna Hald and David Neal. A Shadow release. Drama. Swedish-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 122 min

Tags: Rolf Lassgard, Helena Bergstrom, Johan Widerberg, Colin Nutley, Johanna Hald, David Neal, Shadow, Drama, relationships, adult, love triangle

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