Thursday, April 18, 2024

Swede Caroline


This indie comedy promises much, positioning itself firmly within the micro genre of British whimsy. Jo Hartley stars as the titular Caroline, who has been disqualified from a giant veg growing contest in Shepton Mallet.  She attracts the attention of a documentary maker who vows to follow her as she works toward the next year's contest. 

So, we are in mockumentary territory and that is where the film falls flat, with lots of hand-held shots, long mumbled conversations that go nowhere and utterly unfathomable plot twists involving exes, rival growers and a swinging couple who are detectives. 

Somehow the writer-director team of Brook Driver and Finn Bruce manage to make this almost entirely laugh-free. Hartley does her best but the writing is flat, the characters lacking heft and the story nonsensical. Alice Lowe turns up for a needless cameo with an alleged Swedish accent and then runs away, possibly to batter her agent. 

One of the issues is that we never learn much about Caroline or the two men in her life, Paul and Willie, with whom she spends much of her time. Paul is her housemate and Willie their neighbour, but it is hinted there is history among them which is never clarified and their relationships remain underwritten.  

Possibly if this had been scripted more tightly, it might have worked. As it is, the film drags on and on toward an absurd climax involving corrupt politicians and murky deals. Okey doke. 

The overgrown veg look intriguing and the diversion in a country house offers some amusement. But Swede Caroline suffers from stunted growth. 

Swede Caroline opens in UK on 19 April. 

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