Call Mum! [Ring Mamma!] — Scandinavian Film Festival 2021

Niki (Sanna Sundqvist) has a complicated and essentially unhappy relationship with her mother, Sofia (Nina Gunke).  Each in her own way loves the other, but neither appears to like the other very much.  Sofia seems unable to refrain from criticising Niki, making it impossible for Niki to get anything right, no matter what she does.  Niki’s brother, Tomas (Eric Ericson), is in the unenviable position of being the “good” child who somehow manages to always get it right with their mother, making Niki’s position as “never good enough” even harder for her and leading to tension between the siblings.

Not only is Niki walking an emotional tightrope with her mother, but she has no one to turn to for real intimacy.  She’s in a sexual relationship with Rodrigo (Jonatan Rodriguez), who’s married with children, but it’s doubtful that her heart’s in it, and there’s no commitment.  Her closest relationship is with her sensible friend, Maggie (Evin Ahmad), but Niki is inhibited in sharing too deeply, as Maggie is caught up in her own struggles, desperately wanting a child with her new wife.

The only truly close relationship Niki has is with her niece Liv (Julia Corti Kopp), who turns to Niki during her own teenage difficulties with her father.  Niki and Liv comfort one another in a world that’s difficult for many to negotiate.

Life, though, has a way of throwing us into situations for which we are ill-prepared, which challenge our status quo on the very deepest levels.  When this happens to both Niki and Sofia, forgiveness, honesty, acceptance, reconciliation, and even love are there to be had, but whether mother and daughter will recognise their opportunities to offer them is another matter.

Sanna Sundqvist as Niki is outstanding.  Few in Niki’s life really understand that beneath her apparent emotional freedom and self-determination is a woman with deep longings, especially for her mother’s acceptance, even love.  Nina Gunke delivers a compelling performance as Sofia, Niki’s mother, a woman unable to decant her bottled-up emotions and let her daughter near no matter what.

— MICHELE E. HAWKINS

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