Back in July 1980 one of sport history’s most nerve-racking matches took place. In the Wimbledon final the four-time tennis champion Björn Borg, publically known as the Iceborg, was up against the American “superbrat” John McEnroe. Although the compelling film “Borg/McEnroe” leads up to this nail biting rollercoaster match, the story focuses on the psychology behind it, more than the sport itself.
And it’s revealing. Two bad losers with a hungry desire to win handle it completely differently, the ultimate contrasts: Borg, who never loses his cool versus an emotional McEnroe, who screams and swears like an obstinate teenager.
As Andre Agassi so elegantly put it, “every match is a life in miniature,” the film voices something most people don’t know ― the two different legends are pretty much the same in the end. Actor Shia LaBeouf is terrific; known to have the same volcanic temper McEnroe had, he nails the troubled American. Borg, who was loved by the public like a rock star, is played by an unbelievable lookalike, long-haired Sverrir Gudnason, equally as great with restrained emotions boiling inside.
One doesn’t have to be familiar with the famous match in 1980 to appreciate this driving crowd pleaser that uses flashbacks to better understand the men’s inner lives ― Borg’s famous tennis practice as a boy against a garage door in Södertälje is wonderfully depicted.
Borg vs McEnroe official trailer

The Square
A completely different film, the highly praised “The Square,” was screened in Canada’s metropolis. As the award season kicks off, Sweden’s Oscar candidate has established itself to have a good chance for a win. Ruben Östlund (“Force Majeure”) has made a brilliantly uncomfortable satire and daringly strange portrait of an art gallery director (Danish actor Claes Bang) whose life turns upside down after his cell phone is stolen.
Set in très chic Stockholm, Östlund uses dark humor, a tight script and exciting visual camera work as he intelligently examines our relationship with art as well as our norms of masculinity and the persona we might not really have. As Sweden’s sharpest filmmaker, his perceptive eye for human behavior provokes, shakes and forces us toward new thoughts.
Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) shows up in a supporting role, one of many glowing performances. “The Square” opens in theaters in the U.S. on October 27 and will be screened at The New York Film Festival.


More Swedish appearances
Academy award winner Alicia Vikander returned to Toronto in Swedish director Lisa Langseth’s English speaking film “Euphoria.” Playing the estranged sister to a terminally ill woman (Eva Green) Vikander also stepped in as the producer for the first time. Quite predictable, the film focuses on their difficult relationship and inevitable reconciliation at a clinic deep in a forest. Beautifully shot with solid actors (Charlotte Rampling appears in a supporting role) the film never manages to engage or dig under the surface.
Apart from Jens Assurs self-assured debut film “Ravens,” a thriller drama set in the Swedish countryside during the 1970s when a farmer (Reine Brynolfsson) and his oldest son face external threats, the two short films “The Burden” by Niki Lindroth von Bahr and “Push it” by Julia Thelin made the cut to Toronto. So did two Swedish co-productions: Björn Runges “The Wife” with Glenn Close and the romantic supernatural thriller “Thelma” by the talented Norwegian director Joachim Trier (”Oslo, August 31”).
The festival ended on a high note for Niki Lindroth von Bahrs “The Burden” which won the prize for best short film, the dark comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” got the top prize.

By Niclas Goldberg