Swede Caroline – REVIEW

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Swede Caroline - a mockumentary about giant veg growers

Latest in a long line of mockumentary’s is Swede Caroline set in the world of competitive giant vegetable growing and with a punning title the premise is surely an open goal when it comes to vegetable based innuendo. But what we do have is documentary film maker setting out to cover the local monster veg competition and the subsequent scandal when Caroline (the always excellent Jo Hartley) finds her prize winning marrows stolen from her greenhouse. Outraged at what has happened and believing other competitors are attempting to sabotage her efforts to win she drags in Louise (Aisling Bea) and Lawrence (Ray Fearon), a couple she does cash in hand work for and who work as  amateur investigators  and sex party enthusiasts,  to find out whodunit. Helping Caroline out further are two male friends, two pea in the pod as they are both loners and understandably so  when one Paul (the underrated Richard Lumsden) is a fanatical conspiracy theorist and the other, Willy (Celyn Jones), is a solid yet simple man. Bit by bit the three believe they have uncovered a far bigger conspiracy that takes in all manner of disparate characters that will bring shock to the shires.

‘This is Spinal Tap’, arguably the finest mockumentary set the bar high, almost too high for any other in the genre to match let alone exceed as shown with that teams subsequent films (maybe the currently shooting Spinal Tap 2 will do it) but Swede Caroline, though firmly, set in the same genre and starts off as a mockumentary gradually drop the tropes of the genre at the wayside. The documentarian quickly disappears (Tap’s director Marti Debergi was an essential on screen contributor), a narrative voiceover (not always necessary) is absent, characters talking directly to camera disappear around the same time as the documentarian does and as this has been scripted there’s seems to have been little leeway for improvisation and there’s a jarring bit of violence towards the end.

There’s an excellent cast here and along with the main players with Alice Lowe and Ray Ripley along with well known faces such as Steve Brody (a cast regular for Ricky Gervais series) and Richard Lumsden has the best moments as the, at times, utterly delusional and increasingly potty mouthed conspiracy theorist forever jumping to the wrong conclusions to fit his own agenda. But despite all the on screen talent it’s a missed opportunity to let the cast improvise more and the narrow confines of the narrative thread that has this running as a straight drama means there’s little for audiences to veg out and relish.

related feature : Being Borat’s daughter…….

related feature : Steve Martin & director Morgan Neville discuss the new Steve (Martin) two part documentary on Apple+

We chat to Jo Hartley and Richard Lumsden about the making of the mockumentary…

Here’s the Swede Caroline trailer……

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