Stockholm My Love

Mark Cousins heads to the Swedish capital for another city symphony, anchored by an impressive performance from singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry

Film Review by Adam Stafford | 09 Jun 2017
Film title: Stockholm My Love
Director: Mark Cousins
Starring: Neneh Cherry
Release date: 16 Jun
Certificate: PG

After exploring his hometown in I Am Belfast, prolific filmmaker Mark Cousins makes a welcome return to the cine-essay genre with Stockholm My Love, and again pairs with the magnificent cinematographer Christopher Doyle (famous for his work with Wong Kar-wai). Added into the mix is an unlikely collaboration with singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry.

The Swedish capital and its architecture is the focus of this stirring, emotionally effecting feature, which sees Cherry wandering through the various quarters of Stockholm while narrating a letter to her erstwhile architect father, and then, in a powerful tonal shift midway through, a tormented monologue delivered to a dead man.

Cherry projects a powerful presence on screen, flitting between sorrow, wonder and eventually elation, making you wonder why she has never considered acting until now. In an audacious scene which might have been dubious in hands other than Cousins’, she begins lip-syncing to a mournful rap on a lonely subway carriage; in another, the director deftly juxtaposes the assassination of the Swedish Prime Minister with personal tragedy.

As an observant documentarian, Cousins has a canny talent for wringing the poetic qualities out of mundane street scenes, such as a gaggle of hi-viz wearing children (“mini-citizens on patrol”) or a boy and his father dropping their hats on the pavement. As one would expect, Doyle’s camerawork is resplendent, from the recurring motif of two oranges rolling on the ground, to the minimalist beauty of a broken tree branch suspended over water, to the image of what first appears to be a camera lens that soon reveals to be a mirrored hole in the stairwell of a cinema.

Stockholm My Love pays homage to similar city film dispatches such as Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil and Patrick Keiller’s London insofar that it blends the documentary and the imaginary with the resilient spirit of the city inhabitants who tread the concrete, stone and gravel. [Adam Stafford]

Released by the BFI