(A Serious Game)

ROLE: Markel

GENRE: Romantic Drama

COUNTRY:  Sweden

SWEDEN RELEASE: September 9, 2016


An achingly sensual story of love and adultery set in the early years of the 20th century, A Serious Game is an adaptation of a classic novel by Hjalmar Söderberg that centers on the passionate affair between the painter Lydia Stille and the journalist Arvid Stjärnblom. It begins when they are young and penniless, but after Arvild delays asking for her hand the impetuous Lydia vanishes. Nevertheless, when they meet again a decade later, their connection sparks once more, wreaking havoc on their respective marriages, children, and position in the strait-laced society of the time. Both Lydia and Arvid dream of a pure, great and untainted love, yet such a love demands a greater sacrifice than they could ever imagine. This evocative film deals with the choices they have, the choices they do not have, the consequences of the choices they make.

Film Details

 Sverrir Gudnason - Arvid Stjärnblom
Karin Franz Körlof - Lydia Stille
Michael Nyqvist - Markel
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard - Lidner
 Liv Mjönes - Dagmar

* * * * *

Director - Pernilla August
Screenplay - Lone Scherfig
Based on the novel by Hjalmar Söderberg
Cinematography - Erik Molberg Hansen
Music - Matti Bye

115 minutes

Production Notes:

Filming took place in April & May of 2015 mostly in Budapest, Hungary but also in Stockholm and the archipelago of Amal.

Publicity Stills


Awards & Nominations
Guldbagge Award 2017 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Michael Nyqvist

Guldbagge Award 2017 for Best Costume: Kicki Ilander

Guldbagge nominations:
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Karin Franz Körlof
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Liv Mjönes
Best Set Design: Anna Asp

Berlin & Stockholm Premiere Photos
Film Festival Screenings
Berlin International Film Festival - February 16, 2016
Cabourg Film Festival - May 2016
Edinburgh International Film Festival - June 15, 2016
Espoo Ciné International Film Festival - August 19, 2016
Haugesund International Film Festival, Norway - August, 2016
Mill Valley Film Festival, California - October 6, 2016
Palm Springs International Film Festival - January 8, 2017
Seattle International Film Festival - January 15, 2017
Film Comments

"A Serious Game is a visual delight, but it adheres a little too strictly to the rules of conventional melodrama... The scenes in the newspaper office, governed by Michael Nyqvist’s straight-talking editor, are particularly sharp."  ...Wendy Ide, Screen Daily

"Karin Franz Körlof plays her starring role with bravura - And Liv Mjönäs in the role of Arvid's wife Dagmar. Extra praise goes to Michael Nyqvist who plays the managing editor Markel with a warmth that permeates every scene he is involved in."  ...Silja Sahlgren-Fodstad,

"It has an attention to detail, we rarely see in the Swedish film, but more often with directors like Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold and Jane Campion. An aesthetic detail in each component from the smallest unfinished replica of framing, lighting and sound effects that contribute to the sensually tactile movie experience. ...Malena Jansen,

"Nyqvist brings a warm spark to his role. Mikkel Boe Folsgaard (memorable as the imbecilic king in A Royal Affair) also has a moving scene as the paper's foreign correspondent, whose past ties to Lydia resurface inconveniently."  ...David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

"The contrast between the still photo is many times reminiscent of classic paintings, and the handheld camera feels instinctively fresh. What made August to run on the old TV format 4: 3 I do not know, but it actually looks really good on the big screen. The soundtrack is sparse and beautiful and complements the photo as well as storytelling... Sverrir Gudnason and Karin Franz Körlof manage to give their characters' suffering credibility. Michael Nyqvist offers a stable role in the interpretation of the main editor Markel, but the material he has to work with is a bit too flat.   ...Eric Diedrich,

"As a director, Pernilla August is, unsurprisingly, at her best when working with actors, herself being one of Ingmar Bergman’s protégés in the early part of her acting career, most memorably in her first film role as the maid in Fanny and Alexander. Her focus on the acting is well served by the old fashioned format of the film."   ...Nils Saeveras, Fipresci

"A rather pitiful and introverted character, not unlike a Scandi version of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, Arvid has recently moved to Copenhagen, where he hopes to make a career as a copy editor for the Nationalbladet journal. When his editor (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyqvist, a more interesting actor with a far more natural energy) drags him along to visit a painter at his lake house, Arvid shyly catches the eye of the artist’s daughter, Lydia Stille."   ...Peter Debruge, Variety

"As far as the acting is concerned, Karin Franz Körlof delivers a raw and poignant performance as Lydia, a woman in the forefront who was probably born some one hundred years too soon. Sverrir Gudnason gives an equally touching and strong turn as Arvid, who is quite passive in his choices and who takes a long time to get a grip on himself. The supporting cast made up of Michael Nyqvist, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Liv Mijönes is uniformly excellent."  ...Emma Vestrheim, Cinema Scandinavia

"Arvid, the newly hired copy editor for a Copenhagen newspaper comes to visit the house one day, tagging along with his editor (Michael Nykvist, wonderful as always)... This somewhat familiar tale of ruinous extramarital passion is elevated by the film’s visual restraint - a cool Nordic palette of creams and pale grays framed in Academy ratio - and the solid performances from actors unafraid to commit to their frequently unlikeable characters. August’s deliberate pacing and formal simplicity add thematic layers too."  ...Jessica Kiang, IndieWire

"A Serious Game remains a worthy piece of cinema, and given August has worked so closely in her career as an actress with filmmakers such as Bille August and Ingmar Bergman, it’s safe to say that she has taken notes from such collaborations, and has put such experiences into practise, because this is a fine offering."  ...Stefan Pape,

Danish Reviews: