In the Swedish drama Eat Sleep Die, young Rasa, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, works at factory packing vegetables. She’s quite satisfied as she’s good at her job and all her friends are there, it’s all she knows. She also has to work there as her mother is deceased and her father is unable to work so she has to support the two of them. But then the factory has to start downsizing and Rasa’s job situation gets threatened.
Eat Sleep Die is a naturalistic, almost documentary-like drama in the tradition of Lukas Moodysson. From the plot description it may sound like very familiar stuff and not terribly interesting, and it’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it’s really quite an amazing film.
For one thing it’s incredibly realistic. All the characters feel like real people and the relationships feel incredibly natural. The relationship between Rasa and her father for instance nails all the right elements, the joy and sadness of the situation, and is filled with marvelous little details. It never feels forced.
This is a movie which allows its hero to behave like a douche without going too far with it, she’s not perfect but she’s recognizably human and actress Nermina Lukac gives an absolutely magnificent performance. She brings equal amounts of warmth, charm and toughness to the role and gives it her all. Milan Dragisic is also excellent as Rasa’s father.
It’s refreshing to see a movie of this kind so devoid of any pretension, a movie that doesn’t wallow too much in bleakness as movies of this kind tend to do but instead blends a little joy into the mix. It also feels incredibly authentic, the filmmakers could just as well have spent time following a real immigrant teen working in a small town in Sweden. The scenes with Rasa and her friends mingling at work or in the pub feel completely natural.
However, the film is somehow still just a hair’s breath away from greatness. It does drag a little at times, some editing would have helped, and there’s a tinge of familiarity to the whole ordeal which the film doesn’t fully escape.
Still, it’s a rock solid debut for director Gabriela Pichler and it will be exciting to see what she does next.
Final Verdict: A winning, remarkably natural working class drama that draws the viewer in and makes you really feel like you’re watching real life. It drags a little and maybe a tad too familiar but overall a great debut for director Gabriela Pichler.
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