Songs From the Second Floor

Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson, much of whose background is in commercials, has described the influences behind this highly depressive and highly stylized look at modern life as painterly. But his long takes and stationary camera setups also suggest the stage—specifically Ionesco's absurdist theater—which is one reason this 2000 feature, with its endless traffic jam, its petty and multiple cruelties, its pasty-faced executives, and its surreal details often seems more old-fashioned than modern. The plot, in which a tired businessman whose son has been institutionalized burns down his own factory in a fit of despair, is finally less striking than some of the eerie images, which grow more monumental toward the end. In Swedish with subtitles. 98 min.

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