'Livet Är En Schlager', Sweden 2000

The Swedish near-obsession with the world of the Eurovision Song Contest and the hit parade is the inspiration for the Swedish comedy "Livet Är En Schlager", also known as "Hånden På Hjertet" and "Once In A Lifetime".

It tells the story of care worker Mona Berglund (the excellent Helena Bergström), mother of four, who shares this national obsession. She even named her four daughters after Swedish hit parade singers like Kikki and Carola. She has written her first song and lets her brother talk her into submitting it to the national finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. One small hitch, though - the composer doesn't know she swiped his tune.

"Livet Är En Schlager" is set against the sometimes harsh realities of life in contemporary Sweden for struggling families just like Mona's: People seem to slip through the cracks in the well-fare system and, like so many others, Mona's husband (the handsome Thomas Hanzon) is out of work. The spark seems to be going out of their marriage, sheer tedium threatening to engulf their lives.

Mona's song is accepted and her hit parade dreams seem to come true - but things start spinning out of control for her and those close to her: Disabled David, the composer of the tune, feels betrayed, and her transvestite brother and AIDS patient Candy Darling (played by Björn Kjellman) is dying.

In the end, Mona does win against all odds, and even though her brother dies, he dies happy as he's watching her triumph on TV.

Are harsh realities, dreams of a better life and even impending death really laughing matters? Thankfully, they are in "Livet Är En Schlager". This is a comedy about real people and their very real problems inspired by the British tradition of communicating strong social commitment with a sense of humour.

(click to enlarge)

"Livet Är En Schlager" is directed by the accomplished Danish film director Susanne Bier, who has several hit comedies to her name - and it's written by the Swedish comedian Jonas Gardell.

Helena Bergström, Jonas Karlsson, Thomas Hanzon, Björn Kjellman, Johan Ulveson, Lisa Olsen, Jessica Andersson, Amanda Rasmuson, Sandra Kassmann, Regina Lund, Göran Forsmark and others
Carola Häggkvist (Swedish entry to the ESC in 1983 and 1991), Anders Berglund (conductor of many Swedish entries) and Lasse Holm (composer and lyricist of various Swedish entries)

The DVD is available from SKIVHUGGET in Stockholm at
Price approximately SKR 229 plus postage.
Running time 104 minutes

On the DVD there are also the theatrical trailer, biographies and subtitles (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish). Unfortunately there are no English subtitles, but the story is simple enough to follow even if you do not speak any of these languages.

(All copyrights acknowledged!)