Sundance review: Reckless (2022)

Pella Kagerman / Photo by: Allan Smitty

In a near dystopian future (an estimate based on fashion) humankind has moved to live below the ocean, in the probably only liveable place left for the former inhabitants of Earth.

The world we encounter in Elle Kari Bergenrud’s sci-fi drama Reckless which has just had its world premiere in Sundance, is probably the sub-marine version of Stockholm or just anywhere else beneath the former Scandinavian peninsula. It’s a claustophobic urban milieu in which people go on about their own business like everything were normal. They shop for Vitamin D food packed in round flat boxes, and they discuss their work. They also do ocassionaly complain about leaks, blaming them on the state and bad maintenance, not knowing that they are witnessing their own doom.

This is a Swedish dystopia, so there are no wicked cyborgs or shotguns, murky-looking characters urinating on the streets, and there are no robberies or fist-fights. Actually, there is no bad language either and it seems like that the only really bad thing is the air people breathe.

Devices made to bring some oxygen from the ocean might to be a source of the fast-growing leakage problem. There is a scene in which this possibility is hinted at, but not much else to understand what kind of accident will eventually push the humankind into another abyss. The claustophobic feeling is build through the use of endless tunnels and subway, and a couple of simple takes of the rough sea. The space is filled with echoing voices and the sound of droplets.

Nikki (Elle Kari Bergenrud) doesn’t pay attention to the leaks or generally to anything outside her heartbreak. Her thoughts are consumed with Rickard (Amed Bozan) only, and when she eventually gets what she wants and he comes to her door indirectly asking for another chance, she doesn’t notice a small puddle in her livingroom.

The film kicks off with her flashbacks of the once upon a time happy relationship, and then with the less pleasant ones. Bergenrud is supreme in her role as a young woman in the state of deep sorrow.

Kågerman’s script is an example of a complex writing presented through a seemingly simple story. As much as Reckless looks like a film about love in an unorthodox place, the narrative directs us towards examining life in general. Are we entitled to personal happines, and is there such a thing as a happy end? Will we get out of our ecological disaster, or will we end up living without sunlight, burried underground?

Country: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Year: 2021
Runtime: 10’16”
Produced by: Eliza Jones, Markus Walta
Co-produced by: Helena Ingelsten
Written/ Directed by: Pella Kågerman
Cinematographer: Josua Enblom
Scenography: Petra Kågerman
Sound: Abraham Willey, Elias Lorenzo
Costume Design: Charlie Malmsten
Makeup: Tuija Valén
VFX: Arild Andersson
Editor: Pella Kågerman
Sound Design: Calle Wachtmeister