Anna Odell wasn’t invited to her high school reunion, so she decided to make a movie where she goes and tells everybody what she thinks and what she experienced in high school. But she’s not content with that. After she’s done with the film, she tracks down her former classmates to show them the film in person and see how they react.
Återträffen starts off as a normal, albeit autobiographical feature film, then veers into (semi-)documentary territory and that is a mix that is certainly interesting, even though it probably won’t appeal to everyone. I liked the mix of fiction and reality, though.
The first half of the film was absolutely excellent. The set-up, the characters and the acting were all fantastic and to watch them rip into each other was fascinating. I wouldn’t have minded watching a whole feature about that Reunion (and I’d certainly be very interested should Odell ever decide to make an entire fiction film).
But also the second half of it was very well done and watching Odell trying to track her classmates down and convincing them to see the film and participate in the project was equally fascinating. I don’t know how much of this is actually real and how much of it is improvised or acted after all (I am sure it is not entirely a documentary though), but it doesn’t actually matter, other than it underscores Odell’s bravery in making this film: She not only uses her own name and her own story, her portrayal of herself isn’t exactly positive or flattering and you never know how much of this is her persona and how much her personality.
But not only that, ultimately it is a film about bullying, about hierarchical structures in schools and how they continue outside of school as well. And Odell, in her quest to free herself from these structures and her position (figuratively and literally) and to understand the processes, ends up becoming a harasser herself in the film when it comes to the man she identifies as the main culprit and who refuses to participate in the project.
Judging from the reviews I read about the film, many people don’t know what to do with that second half and are disappointed that the fictional narrative is abandoned. But I think that mix really enhances both parts of the film. Without the second half, it would have been a story of a woman who has been victimized and who attempts to understand how and why, but ultimately fails. With the second half, you see her taking her fate into her own hands and working through the issues, even if not perfectly. And that is much more satisfying.
Summarizing: It was a fascinating and well-made film and I for one am curious what Odell will come up with next.