This wonderful, dryly comic frame narrative concludes Andersson’s trilogy dealing with human existence. The director was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for it. As in the previous two films (Songs From The Second Floor and You, The Living), short absurd scenes and sketches illustrate people’s inability to control and give meaning to their own lives.
The tone is quickly set with the sharp humour of the three opening scenes, which show how various individuals deal with death: denial, profiteering, or by spreading confusion and disorder. Linking the sketches are the attempts of a melancholic pair of salesmen who, against their own better judgement, are trying to earn a living by selling practical joke props. Their appearance and behaviour seem like a metaphor for the entertainment industry.
With a masterly feeling for engaging dry humour, a brilliant choice of setting and perfect timing, Andersson sketches a breath-taking world filled with absurd dreams and recognizable human behaviour. His cinematic style is unique: the detailed, static frames are both cartoonesque and picturesque. They are cut-outs of life. It is a shame that the film world doesn’t have more Roy Anderssons.