Movie review: Outstanding hit

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Fact: “Burn all my letters”

Genre: Drama

Premiere: September 23

Director: Björn Runge

Cast: Asta Kamma August, Bill Skarsgård, Gustav Lindh and more.

Running time: 1 hour 59 minutes

Recommended age limit: 11 years

Rating: + + + + +

It is summer in the early 1930s, and the celebrated author Sven Stolpe is at the Sigtuna Foundation to complete one of his works. He has his wife Karin Stolpe with him. The young aspiring writer Olof Lagercrantz is also at the Sigtuna Foundation, and he and Karin begin a short and intense affair – an affair that Sven Stolpe will later describe as “a sexual attack” directed at himself.

“Burn all my letters” is based on Alex Schulman’s novel from 2018, which is about this particular triangle drama. Sven and Karin Stolpe were his grandparents, and in the novel he advances the theory that Sven Stolpe’s anger and rage leaked down through the generations and finally landed in himself.

And it can be said right away: Björn Runge has made an outstanding film version of Schulman’s story. Equally outstanding are the actors. Asta Kamma August is crystal clear in her acting – with exquisite precision she gives voice to the real Karin, who lived all her life cowed by her threatening husband and who, during the small sliver of time in Sigtuna, suddenly thought she saw a way out. Gustav Lindh’s portrayal of Olof makes it completely understandable how Karin saw him as a breath of fresh air: He is lovable and gentle, at the same time wise and passionate.

Bill Skarsgård’s Sven Stolpe is the film’s rumbling threat on the horizon, and his performance literally feels like a pressure on the chest. He makes Stolpe both choleric, evil and terrifying, but at the same time exposes fragments of a small, insecure and very scared man.

Brushstroke by brushstroke, Björn Runge carefully paints the picture of a tragedy. “Burn all my letters” is certainly magnificent in terms of costume, photography and settings – but it is in what is not seen that the real greatness lies. Because this is a film that slowly digs in, that targets the soul and heart and really hits the mark.