We’re big fans of Mark Cousins here. His work defies expectations and masterfully blurs reality with fiction. I am Belfast was probably one of our favourite movies from last year’s LFF, though it’s a movie that it took a while to properly warm to.
That theme of distance warming perspective is something I keep returning to for Cousins’ fiction debut Stockholm My Love. Following Neneh Cherry’s character as she wanders the streets of her home town, we journey with her as she attempts to make sense of a tragedy on its anniversary, through her perspective on the city.
Narrated throughout by Cherry from Cousins’ script, we get a local’s outsider perspective on a city that her father moved to from Africa. Home but distant at the same time, Cherry effectively writes three letters as she walks under the slate grey, then vibrant blue skies of Stockholm. The first letter she writes to her father, attempting to make sense of his move to the freezing greys of the city from the warm browns of his hometown. The second she writes to Gunnar, the man at the heart of the tragedy and finally, the third she writes to the city itself.
As with I am Belfast, it’s very difficult to articulate the feelings brought about by this sprawling, wordy, ethereal movie. Cherry is an articulate host and her voice resonates in both English and her native Swedish, but at times, the whole movie veered way too close to an A-Level student’s idea of ART. But, that view is receding with my distance from the movie. As a deeply felt love letter to a city, this is an affecting piece and Cousins continues to be one of the most original cinematic artists out there. A simultaneously committed observer and involved participant, his movies give pause for thought and that pause is important.
Stockholm My Love will stick with you as you leave the screening. Part art project, part fiction, part poem, part navel-gazer, this isn’t going to suit everyone but I’m happy to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt. Oh, and Cherry's music written for the movie is great.