Review: When Darkness Falls – (2006)


Directed by: Anders Nilsson | 133 minutes | thriller | Actors: Oldoz Javidi, Bahar Pars, Mina Azarian, César Saracho, Zeljko Santrac, Tony Haddad, Elián Jajjo, Amin Alabadi, Alice Dadgostar, Annika Hallin, Mark Zak, Johanna Lazcano Osterman, Nour El-Refai, Eivin Dahlgren, Nina Syvälammi, Nina Johansson, Stefanie Basmaji, Susanna Basmaji, Lone Jeppesen, Maweje Kuddiza, Tommy Antonsson, Uwe Mansshardt, Ramadan Yausry, Hannelore Schumann, Lia Boysen, Peter Engman, Simon Engman, Tuva Sällström, Anja Lundkvist, Bibi Andersson, Fyr Thorvald Strömberg, Tomas Bolme, Catharina Alinder, Lars Väringer, Cliff Otterberg, Åsa Kärner, Petra Hallberg, Ritsa Papacunstantinou, Kristian Lima de Faria, Donald Högberg, Helén Söderqvist Henriksson, Fredric Egerstrand, Harry Goldstein, Maria Hörnelius, Jan Elfwencrona, Michaela Berner, Anna Maria León , Reuben Sallmander, Per Graffman, Nisti Stërk, Jonatan Blode, Christopher Wollter, Tobias Aspelin, Ashkan Ghods, Magnus Roosmann, Ralph Carlsson, Jan Coster, Per ‘Johan’ Johansson, Jörgen Lönnquist, Zoltan Bajkai, Fredrik Eriksson, Martin Zetterlund, Pär Westberg, Tine Erlandsson, Mia Guldbrand

Very strong and at times impressive film from Sweden, in which three stories are told side by side, with the above-mentioned themes as an interconnection. The three stories are titled: ‘Layla’, ‘Carina’ and ‘Aram’, named after the central characters in each of the segments. Each of the stories gives a penetrating picture of people whose daily activities suddenly or secretly change and their home is no longer a safe place.

Aram (Reuben Sallmander) must flee when the criminals who shot down his porter Peter (Per Graffman) find his address. Carina (Lia Boysen) is abused at home by her husband Håkan (Peter Engman), who is also a journalist and whose aggression is fueled by jealousy. Finally, Layla (Oldoz Javidi) suffers from the strict rules of her parents, who are part of an unspecified immigrant family. At the same time, the hypocritical behavior of the people around them and the legal system in Sweden are also being questioned. One of the main messages of the film is that such events are the order of the day, even though we as viewers may think that this does not happen to us. The image that director Anders Nilsson paints of the company and its inhabitants is not very positive, although the behavior of the main characters is admirable.

‘When Darkness Falls’ has an unusual structure, the three segments actually form three separate films, without overlapping storylines and characters. This sets the film apart from other episodic films in which multiple characters are followed, such as ‘Shorts Cuts’, ‘Crash’ or ‘Pulp Fiction’. Although the change of scenes due to the excellent editing and the high tempo is absolutely not disturbing, three mini-movies are actually told in one. The makers could have easily removed three captivating and intriguing films from the material. Without a doubt, the part about ‘Layla’ is the most powerful of all. Her story and that of her older sister Nina (Bahar Pars) is depressing and particularly sad. The revenge that Nina falls victim to is so painful that it’s sometimes hard to watch. It is, as has been said, speculation about the ethnic origin of her family, but director Nilsson and co-author Joakim Hansson put the viewer who assumes they are Muslim on the wrong foot. Whether this is an additional statement about existing prejudices or a politically correct attitude that precisely dispels that message, it is debatable. The fact remains that it does not matter what religion you have, if it is abused to punish (supposedly) socially unwelcome behavior in this way.

After the gripping and breathtaking scenes around the motel in Germany where Layla’s family solves the problem ‘Nina’, the film loses its initial power and it becomes apparent that the stories around Carina and Aram are less well developed. ‘When Darkness Falls’ confronts and asks awkward questions, to which no concrete answers can be given immediately. Due to the excellent acting performances of Javidi and Boysen in particular, the film continues to haunt after the show. And that’s a whole lot of merit.

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