In big cities we pass by them every day, homeless people.

Ulla Jacobsen

Jacobsen was previously editor in chief of the DOX Magazine from March 1998 until early 2009. A lot of the DOX articles republished in ModernTimes was ordered by her. After 2009 she worked freelance, until she died in 2013.

Tomorrow Never Knows

Kirsi Nevanti

Sweden 2006, 114 min.

Homeless people to us are not real people with a story, with a family or connection to our life. They are some kind of mass, they’re often drunk, smell bad and some even ask for money. We feel pity for them. This is how most of us feel about homeless people, but not after seeing Kirsi Nevanti’s film “Tomorrow Never Knows”. As the story of her two protagonists slowly unfolds, we come to realise that it could just as easily be us there on the street one day. That those two individuals have a story, a background similar to our own: they had a steady job, a family, a nice place to live, but suddenly an unfortunate incident changes that life as it did for Pontus and Marina. Misfortune becomes a downward spiral that leads them to a life in the streets of Stockholm.

This is not the first film about homeless people, but one of the most convincing, engaging films I have seen. The two main characters are intelligent, well-spoken, reflective. They used to be a couple, but not any longer. Pontus managed to pull himself up by the bootstraps and is now leading a ‘normal’ life, studying mathematics at university. Marina, on the other hand, still lives in her trailer unable to break the spell. It sounds like a script from a fiction film, but it is reality. Intimately following these two people provides space for understanding the many situations and facets of homelessness. Little by little, we understand the significance of a home-or the lack of one-both physically and mentally.

Although the director never appears in the film, her engagement is felt in each frame. She sympathizes with the characters, feels for them, befriends them. At one point it just becomes too much for her. In the cold Swedish winter in Marinas leaky trailer, she can’t bear to be the spectator, she suddenly utters: “I can’t leave you here,” and she stays the nights.

USA, Utah, Salt Lake City, Homeless man sitting on sidewalk
USA, Utah, Salt Lake City, Homeless man sitting on sidewalk

Cinematically it is very impressive. It switches between passages following the protagonists, closely observing them, giving then plenty of time to express their views, following them in their daily challenges (like the trailer being drawn away). And passages with long, beautiful, evocative shots of Stockholm shrouded in attentive music composed by Freddie Wadling, raw and sensitive at the same time. A few times Nevanti inserts animated sequences, such as of Marina’s trailer being transformed into a balloon flying over the city. This adds dreaminess to the film and stresses that it is not sad, but about people with dreams.

Kirsi Nevanti has performed a masterful achievement by being able to slide completely into their world and discover its essence. To create a great cinematic experience out of their reality that opens our senses and makes their strange world very familiar.

 


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