Small time actor Reine is offered a
job as a recreational instructor at a high security
prison. Determined to make the most of his new job,
Reine decides to set up a play in the prison, despite
the resistance he meets from the prison’s management as
well as the inmates. That is – until the criminals
realize that participating in the play may provide them
with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to escape.
A public and critical hit at the Gothenburg festival, "Vägen
ut" is a comedy with dark undertones that
should enjoy a long run indeed. Story of a group of
convicts who join a theater group is told with such
warmth and love for its characters.
Director Daniel Lind Lagerlof, 30, previously worked as
assistant director to Bille August on "Jerusalem," as
well as directing episodes of a couple of popular TV
series. "Vägen ut",
penned by his wife, Malin Lagerlof, and in part based on
a true story, is his first feature, but he shows such a
sure hand in all departments that it looks like a
veteran helmed the picture.
Reine (Bjorn Kjellman) is an out-of-work actor who in
desperation accepts a job at a high-security prison.
Finding the prison has a room that resembles a small
theater, he has the idea of starting an acting group.
Five cons sign up — due to their sudden love for
theater, Reine believes.
With the support of the prison’s boss (Viveka Seldahl),
Reine works hard to teach the cons the noble art of
being an actor. But he also meets opposition, partly
from skeptical guard Jakobsson (Peter Haber), but mainly
from hardened criminal Ekman (Thomas Hanzon), who feels
his position in the prison threatened. He doesn’t shy
away from murder to restore what he considers order.
This subplot brings a measure of darkness and violence
into the story, but Lind Lagerlof manages to maintain
the right balance between the picture's often very funny
comic elements and its more serious undertones. Finally,
Reine and the prisoners get a chance to perform at a
small theater in Stockholm, leading to the big question
of whether they will they play or run for it.
Even if the outcome is predictable, the journey there is
funny, entertaining and thoughtful. Ace d.p. Jens
Fischer (Colin Nutley’s regular) makes ample use of the
prison interiors, conveying the claustrophobia of the
place — as well as the liberation the cons feel when
Lagerlof’s clever casting (at least for Swedish viewers)
portrays the gap between those in power and those
without: The authorities are all played by well-known
actors, while the prisoners are limned by legitimate
thespians mostly unknown to the general public. Latter
are all excellent, with special kudos to Michael
Nyqvist as the edgy Diego. Technical credits are