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A wrenching, darkly funny debut feature.

Axel Petersén (Sweden, Discoveries)


Sunday, September 11, 4:15 p.m.
AMC 10 (10 Dundas Street East)

Tuesday, September 13, 9 p.m.
AMC 9 (10 Dundas Street East)

Saturday, September 17, 6 p.m.
AMC 10 (10 Dundas Street East)

Janne (Johannes Brost) is a former club king mounting a comeback with Avalon, his decadent nightclub set to open in a Swedish resort town. Named after the Roxy Music single, Janne and his business partner Klas (Peter Carlberg) imagine a permanent fantasy camp for middle-agers angling to get back to the cokey heyday of the late ’80s. After an afternoon of careless joyriding in Klas’s car, Janne backs into a bit of scaffolding, accidentally killing his friend’s hired hand. Janne, Klas, and Janne’s hard-drinking sister Jackie (Leonore Ekstrand) enter into a conspiratorial menage-a-trois, as they hire some local white collar thugs to dispose of the body, lest the launch of Avalon be delayed. As Janne struggles to find the cash to pay these goons, his criminal conspiracy spirals out of control, with murder and extortion gilded by plenty of drunk driving.

There’s a savage humour to Axel Petersén’s Avalon that’s rare in a first time feature filmmaker. Sly and wicked without being mean, that Petersén flashes even a modicum of clemency for his by-and-large detestable characters speaks to his charity as a filmmaker. Avalon unfolds with an almost dogme-ish naturalism, which while sometimes muddling emerging plot points, reflects the booze-cloudy interior worlds of the film’s characters. As Janne, Bros is superb: smug, weathered, handsome, and believably tortured. And, finally, a throbbing, dopey dance soundtrack that’s not played ironically.