DVD Review: MISS FRIMAN’S WAR | FRÖKEN FRIMANS KRIG (MHz Series, 2013-2017, on DVD and Streaming)

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by Dale Reynolds on August 30, 2020



Set in the first decade of the 20th century, this enjoyable and amusing Swedish drama concerns the challenges facing stalwart women’s rights activists in the capital, Stockholm. Although this well-written and beautifully series (twelve episodes in four seasons, all in one collection) is about Swedish women and their political struggles, it is neither either melodramatic nor romantic-twaddle. The series highlights five over-forty women who create a female-owned and-operated co-op store, “Swedish Homes.” It should be noted that after the equality-for-women movement began in the late 18th century, it took Europe another dozen or so decades to gain some real traction. Roughly summarized, “feminism” translated as being against “masculine tyranny,” which included education, voting rights, divorce, child-rearing and financial independence. Thus, our heroines must wrestle with both intense prejudice against their movement and a corrupt, cynical all-male government.

Miss Dagmar Friman (Sissela Kyle) approaches her married sister, Lottie (Frida Hallgren) — who is struggling with an over-bearing husband Axel (Gustaf Hammarsten) who drags on her freedoms and friends — to gingerly create not only a safe place for women to shop, but also a place to organize — along socialist lines — to help striking men achieve better working conditions. They also need to force nasty owners (women as well as men) to cease using children illegally as scabs, and stop poisoning the lower-class populations with tainted foods.

These older women also help a young couple, Emmy (Maria Kulle) and Jon (Kristoff Bergland), to overcome shyness and develop a strong relationship which will lead to marriage.

One of the strengths of the series is how the older actresses are not traditional beauties in the Hollywood sense, but rather have their beauty expressed by their careworn faces and beleaguered bodies, allowing for a more expressive acting style. This is true for the men as well. Overall, the highly invested acting is excellent, highlighting Pernilla Oljelund‘s sturdy writing and Harald Hamrell and Mikael Drake‘s nuanced, humorous, and solid direction.

It’s uncanny how we desperately need to know and comprehend these history lessons more than ever in today’s so-called woke culture.

Miss Friman’s War (Fröken Frimans krig)
MHz Networks
four discs | 700 minutes
in Swedish with English subtitles
released May 28, 2019
on DVD and streaming at MHzchoice and Amazon

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