If Everything Was Real

Cancer-film narratives are dime-a-dozen, but so are hoary devices of magical realism. Thankfully, directors / producers Stephane Mounkassa and Stefan Sundin walk the thin line between both with If Everything Was Real.

Josef (Edvin Ryding) is a 14-year-old soccer fanatic taking chemotherapy for cancer. At his side for treatment is his mother, Jennifer (Lia Boysen), and a man whom we assume is perhaps Josef’s father or uncle.

Instead, Goran (Jimmy Lindstrom, like a bald Swedish cross of Alan Tudyk and Shea Whigham) is Josef’s guardian angel — visible only to Josef and endowed with the power to grant Josef three wishes.

Mounkassa and Sundin switch between the sterile serenity of Josef’s cancer ward and Goran’s color-popped delivery of Josef’s wishes — lucid dream-like visits to carnivals, cinemas and the like where his boyish hair, now gone, instead blows in the wind.

Helping stave off a potentially repetitive sappiness in this story is Linda (Wilma Liden), a new girl on Josef’s floor who begrudgingly becomes his friend … and on whose behalf Josef tries to strike a bargain with Goran.

In all, it’s a compelling, if not terribly surprising, wrinkle on a familiar story — a sort of docile Drop Dead Fred. Meanwhile, Mounkassa and Sundin do a fine job mining the empathy unique to children which adults, pure as their intentions may be, are simply no longer able to comprehend.

(35 minutes, Sweden; Drama; in Swedish with subtitles)

If Everything Was Real is a Narrative Short finalist at the 2017 Heartland Film Festival and will be part of a short-film program presented at:

  • 5:15 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20 at AMC Castleton Square 14
  • 10:15 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 21 at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12

Tickets are available at http://heartlandfilm.org/festival/tickets/, by calling 1-866-HFF-1010 or at the box office at the time of the screening. 

Directors / producers Stephane Mounkassa and Stefan Sundin will be in attendance at the festival.


An award-winning film critic and features reporter, Nick has professionally written or gabbed about movies for Illinois newspapers, national syndicates, Playboy, The Art Immortal, The Film Yap and Midwest radio stations. He once drummed in a Billy Joel cover band known as Silly Joel and freely presents his Letterboxd page to engage and mock if you wish: https://letterboxd.com/ragekage79/

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