A coming-of-age comedy about…cancer?

Sick ★★★★
SBS on call

This Swedish black comedy opens with a familiar image – a nervous couple in a doctor’s room awaiting test results. But instead of going where you expect – a “journey” from someone suffering from a serious illness – Sick (sjuct in Swedish) begins with Alice in her Twenties (anxious people‘s Carla Sehn), a Swede who lives and works in London, and her boyfriend Matt (Pascal Perico), who receive the news that her ovarian cancer is practically gone. She’ll need regular testing, but she’s largely in the clear.

Alice (Carla Sehn) and Shantana (Maria Nohra).

Alice (Carla Sehn) and Shantana (Maria Nohra).

The couple exits the hospital in slow motion, a smile slowly spreading across Alice’s face. Outside, she prepares to call her mum in Sweden while Matt fiddles with his own phone and hastily answers text messages – before telling Alice he’s dumping her.

Matt secretly saw the nurse at Alice’s cancer ward; Alice grabs his phone and finds “dick pics” in his messages to the nurse, leading to the memorable line, “These aren’t dick pics – they’re black and white!”

Enraged, Alice returns to her hometown of Farsta, a satellite town outside of Stockholm. But after five years, life goes on without her. Fearing her illness, her parents, who had split up, have moved in together in a smaller apartment, and many of her old friends aren’t as excited about her return as she expected. At a housewarming party at her old apartment—her parents swapped apartments with another family in the complex—hardly any of her old classmates remember her, and if they do, it’s only for the time she was “bouncing on the pillows in the playroom.” .

After all, there’s her lifelong best friend Shantana (Maria Nohra) – but she’s changed too, now in a relationship with an ever-present and largely silent friend. Another old classmate, Mehmet (Dejmis Rustom Bustos), abandons her by refusing to sell her cigarettes from his mother’s corner shop.

Alice (Carla Sehn) tries to rebuild her life in suburban Sweden after recovering from cervical cancer.

Alice (Carla Sehn) tries to rebuild her life in suburban Sweden after recovering from cervical cancer.

As if that wasn’t enough, following her treatment, Alice has a “shortened vagina” (something she’s dying to test), her unemployed mother (Anna Bloomberg) has started an advocacy group for “gynecologic cancer” because she believes that she in the shadows of the more glamorous has breast cancer and she’s broke, unemployed and back where she started.

Forget your sophisticated Scandi dramas, Sick is rooted in a seedy suburb, not a designer lamp in sight; this is a much more realistic – and multicultural – working-class Sweden.

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/tv-and-radio/a-coming-of-age-comedy-about-cancer-20230213-p5ck2n.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture A coming-of-age comedy about…cancer?

Jaclyn Diaz

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