As it is in Heaven (Så som i himmelen)

Language - Swedish
Genre - Drama
Release - 2004



As it is in Heaven (Så som i himmelen) is a Swedish drama about a famous conductor who returns to his childhood village and starts helping out the local church choir, and in the process rediscovering humanity and it's various facets. The movie was a huge commercial success, especially in Australia where it was shown for over continuously for over 2 years (!) in a theater in Sydney. It also created a record in Sweden by getting nominated in virtually every category of the Swedish Guldbagge Awards, though failing to win any. It also earned a nomination at the 2005 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film, but lost out to the Javier Bardem starring brilliant Spanish movie The Sea Inside about the real life struggle of Ramon Sampedro, a man who campaigned for euthanasia for 30 years, and eventually his own right to die.
 
Popular Swedish Actor Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) stars as Daniel Daréus, a successful middle-aged international conductor who retires to his childhood village Norrland after suffering an heart attack. As a man who lives for music, Daniel couldn't resist the temptation of accepting an invitation to simply 'listen' to the local church choir at practice, eventually leading him to take charge of the choir. His responsibility becomes official after accepting the position of a Cantor at the church.

But As it is in Heaven is not really a musical but an extremely poignant human drama and a tale of humanity. Writer and director Kay Pollak creates a small town community that has it’s insecurities, desires, greed, and suffering hidden underneath an extremely thin veneer that lies exposed at bare scratches.  But the sense of togetherness with fellow choir members allow these individuals to conquer their anxieties and fears, and welcome their suppressed desires.  The liberation however comes at a price as the Parish minister Arne (Lennart Jähkel) senses his losing command on the village folk, as the people seem more attracted to the choir than the church. Kay Pollack creates individual story-lines in their own small worlds, and the impact that the choir has on their lives. The most poignant of all is the troubled marriage between Arne and his choir-member wife Inger (Ingela Olsson), as she beseeches Arne to accept the human desires as god given gifts rather than sins. Equally moving is the story of an abused wife Gabriella (Helen Sjoholm) who gathers the strength to leave her abusive husband with the support of the choir group.
 

Michael Nyqvist shines with his performance as an individual struggling with a worsening heart condition who's trying to re-assess his priorities. The romantic main-track between Daniel and a free-spirited but sensitive young choir member Lena (Frida Hallgren) is moving and emotional. Kay Pollack thankfully choosing realism over melodrama for a better part.

Though there are odd-bits of humor that prevents the drama from getting too heavy for comfort, As it is in Heaven is essentially an intense, gripping and inspirational human drama about personal struggles, and the strength to overcome the odds that prevent your from attaining true spiritual freedom and happiness. 




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