Having recently returned to Sweden from London, Stina arrives at a summerhouse by the sea to join family, friends and new acquaintances in celebrating the birthday of her cousin, Carl. Filled with memories of the idyllic summers of her youth, Stina is torn between her fraught love for British boyfriend Nick, and her long-held adoration of Carl. As the tension mounts – Nick’s increasing alienation fuelling his suspicions about the nature of Stina’s relationship with Carl – the film finally erupts in a drunken riot of ostracism, betrayal and infidelity.
The fiction feature debut of London-based Swedish filmmakers Marcus Werner Hed and Johan von Reybekiel, Summer House places its story of urbane, European young adults within a distinctly Scandinavian, communal setting. The film’s loose production process – involving improvisation, psychodrama exercises and character workshopping – is evident in its bracing, fluid realism and the sheer intensity of its expressive performances. Shot largely in natural light, the film’s handheld camera grows increasingly restless as the narrative tension builds towards a dramatic climax.
A meditation on the nature of love and relationships and the narcissistic abandon of the modern twenty- and thirty-something, Summer House acutely captures the hedonism of youth and the messiness of modern life.