LIFF: Director Caroline Ingvarsson discusses her psychological thriller film ‘Unmoored’

Unmoored had its premiere at the BFI London International Film Festival last week. The film is an adaptation from the Hakan Nesser novel ‘The Living and the Dead’ which has been brought to the screen by Swedish director Caroline Ingvarsson.

The film stars Mija Turestedt (most recently seen in Barracuda Queens) and Thomas W.Gabrielsson (Magrete – Queen of the North and soon to be seen in The Promised Land) and centres around Mija’s character Maria, a TV presenter whose life begins to slowly fall to pieces when she challenges her dominant husband over a recent accusation against him.

Nordic Watchlist speaks to the director about making the psychological feature.

Nordic Watchlist: What was it that drew you to adapting Hakan Nesser’s novel The Living and the Dead? 

Caroline Ingvarsson: When I got introduced to Håkan Nessers Living and Dead in Winsford, scriptwriter Michele Marshall had already made her adaptation of the book.

So I read the script before I read the book and what I fell in love with was the character of Maria and getting inside her mind. The journey Maria goes on was exceptionally well told in both the book and the screenplay, and though they differ in how they portray Marias mind, Michele really managed to capture the essence of who Håkan Nessers’s Maria is.  

A woman who I believe we can all relate to: an imperfect, complex and desperate woman who does what she does in a moment of panic and frustration and must live with the consequences. 

Nordic Watchlist: The film cleverly puts the onus on us as an audience to figure out where we stand on who is right and who is in the wrong – did you find bringing that narrative to the screen a challenge?

Caroline Ingvarsson: For sure this was a challenge, but also what was so exciting in making the film.  My goal was that throughout the film the audience would gradually connect to Maria and support and cheer for her, and in that way the question becomes even bigger in the end: how do we define guilt?  Who is guilty, and who should be punished? The audience must wrestle with this even as they are rooting for Maria.   

Nordic Watchlist: When it came to filming what was more challenging – having a dog on set or battling the British weather?

Caroline Ingvarsson: The weather wasn’t that easy but for sure the greater challenge was the dog.  We actually had two of the most amazing dogs, Luna and Bella, that shared the role of Castor.  Our animal trainer did an amazing job and the dogs were so connected to Mirja on set, but still it’s hard to orchestrate their actions and timing, and continuity is so critical to filmmaking.  So sometimes we just had to let them take their own time. They are dogs at the end of the day. 

Nordic Watchlist: Which films are you excited to try and catch at London International Film Festival? 

Caroline Ingvarsson: I’m eager to see my friend Goran Stolevaki’s Housekeeping for Beginners, Kitty Green’s The Royal Hotel, Mika Gustafson’s Paradise is Burning and Together 99 a sequel to one of my favourite films Together by Lukas Moodysson.

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