PICK You, the Living: More Deadpan Vignettes From Sweden

You, the Living flips through 50-some single-panel vignettes, many very funny, arranged by Roy Andersson, a Swedish director best known for his commercial work and 2000's Songs From the Second Floor. An (almost always) stationary camera captures a procession of lugubrious Stockholmians; the caption to most of the stills could be "I can't go on." Connections between scenes are loose, if any. A heaplike 50-ish biker gal replays teen-angst classics ("Nobody understands me!") for her boyfriend in a public park. A man hunched over a walker obliviously drags his pet terrier behind him, tangled in its leash. A prematurely embalmed-looking fellow complains about his pension plans while his stout Brünnhilde of a wife mounts him. Andersson delights particularly in left-outs: the guy who can't squeeze into the bus stop during a downpour, the natty little suitor getting his bouquet smashed in a slamming door. The sum total is the reflection of a worldview—sad-sack, bordering on "Everybody Hurts" black-velvet sad-clown bathos—rather than of any narrative. The title comes from Goethe's Roman Elegies, an admonition to appreciate one's measure of life "before Lethe's ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot." This I take to be one of Andersson's dry jokes, as his anhedonic characters already seem settled in Hades—a streetcar even lists Lethe as its destination. NICK PINKERTON

 
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