The Real Estate (Toppen av ingenting)
As anyone who has ever used any type of camera would be aware, it’s possible to zoom in as well as zoom out. The existence of the latter feature seems to have eluded Axel Petersén and Måns Månsson, co-directors of The Real Estate. The film is shot in such an extreme closeup for almost its entire running time that an audience might find themselves playing a game of count the nose hairs. Glamorous 60-something Nojet (Léonore Ekstrand) finds herself returning to Stockholm after the death of her father. She has inherited an apartment building and quickly opts to put it on the market as soon as possible, with assistance from her father’s friend and lawyer Lex (Christer Levin). What should be an unremarkable process becomes confused and chaotic when she discovers that her adopted brother and his son have been illegally subletting apartments in the building to whomever has the funds.
Whatever possessed them to shoot The Real Estate in this style? An audience needs to be drawn into a story, but the unrestrained extreme close ups (and extreme is the keyword here) makes it feel more like the viewer is yanked in and forcibly held against their will. Regardless of what is happening during the film, it’s difficult to see beyond whatever the camera is acutely zoomed in on. This can be unpleasantly disconcerting. In one sequence that features violence in a darkened room, the screen is practically a number of indistinct shapes converging on each other while someone in the sound mixing department turns the bass up as high as possible. The end result feels like a brain aneurysm is imminent: yes, this style provokes a reaction, but it’s a response imposed by the filmmakers rather than given by the audience. Perhaps the soundtrack should feature Cheap Trick?
It’s a pity because there are many admirable qualities to the picture. Léonore Ekstrand is tremendous fun as Nojet: intrusive and often abrasive, but still charming in a difficult-to-pinpoint way. The story is thoughtful and introspective with moments that are brilliantly bonkers. With The Real Estate, a small step backwards would have been a huge leap forwards.
The Real Estate (Toppen av ingenting) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Real Estate (Toppen av ingenting) here: