First-time Swedish director-writer Ruben Ã–stlundâ€™s multi award-winning debut INVOLUNTARY is an inventive, social comedy of embarrassment akin to the stinging satires of Neil Labute or Todd Solondz.
Delving into the nature of group dynamics, and the power of a group over the individual, Ã–stlundâ€™s perceptive ensemble piece depicts the imperfections and enmities of everyday life and potential catastrophes which lie behind each characterâ€™s moral dilemma with glacial wit.
At once humorous and poignant, each situation raises questions about the value of the opinions of others; a man injured at his own party prefers to soldier on through the festivities rather than ruin the night for everyone else; a group of teenage girls pout, preen and flirt, pushing one another further in social and sexual games; a schoolteacher carries out a psychological experiment on peer pressure; a bus driver refuses to resume the journey until a passenger admits their blame, and, at a drunken reunion a young man exploits his matesâ€™ willingness to go with the flow to take advantage of another friend.
Ã–stlundâ€™s systematic use of long takes is coolly non-judgmental, creating a distanced observation of events, and yet his unconventionalÂ framing forces us off balance. This non-conformist style encourages audiences to look at situations more keenly with fresh eyes and from a different approach.
Itâ€™s almost summer in Sweden and minor indiscretions and misbehaviour abound.
Leffe likes to show off for his friends and play salacious pranks, especially when heâ€™s drinking. Meanwhile, a righteous grade-school teacher doesnâ€™t know where to draw the line: she insists her fellow educators need a bit of instruction.
Then there are two young teenage girls who like to pose for sexy photos and to party, but one night in a park, a complete stranger finds one of the girls passed out drunk. A humorous look at lessons to learn, lectures to give and lines not to cross.
Ã–stlund is currently filming his second feature, PLAY for Plattform Produktion due for release in 2011.
Involuntary in UK cinemas 29 Oct, directed by Ruben Ostlund.