Friday, June 12, 2009

Sweet Coffee Flick

For a romantic date night, or just to treat yourself, I recommend renting the movie Sweet Land (2005).

This charming little flick tells the story of Inge who traveled from Germany to Minnesota in 1920 as a mail bride for Olaf Torvik, a Norwegian farmer. It's a poignant, moving story of immigrant experience in America. The recent war with Germany, the language barrier, the restrictive laws, and the difficulties of adjusting to cultural differences all create problems for Inge and Olaf that they must overcome.

This is their story, so I won't tell it.

I know it's just a movie. But I swear to you, it seemed real to me. As I watched it, I kept thinking these must be flesh-and-blood people who lived, loved, and died there . I still can't convince myself that this is fiction. Maybe it's that the acting is so sensitive and subtle. Nothing is overdone. Maybe it's the lack of the Hollywood-style special effects that are ubiquitous in modern movies. Here is a simple story that moves along at the normal pace most of us experience in our own lives. Maybe it's the way the love between Olaf and Inge slowly wrapped itself around me as I watched it develop.

It's a wonderful love story, but it's not just another little romantic comedy. The themes addressed in the movie hold substance. Viewers must grapple with the moral issues of the difficulties facing Inge and Olaf. How can they solve their problems? Did they choose the best way? The director of the movie has exercised great restraint. He doesn't tell us what to think. He just shares their story with us and then lets us decide.

Coffee means something in this movie. I think it is the symbol of Inge herself: her dark and intense loveliness, her warmth, her aesthetic sensitivity, her delight in life itself. Watch for the coffee and how it's used. Tell me what you think, after you've seen it.

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