The Swedish film, JJ+E (or Vinterviken), is a story of two lovers separated by cultural and financial barriers. The film was directed by Alexis Almström and written by Dunja Vujovic and Mats Wahl. The narrative has the same structure as the Shakespearean classic, but the loose ends make it less potent. At the helm of affairs, there is obviously agape love, one that is pure in nature. It is unselfish and is done without the expectation of being reciprocated. The scales are unequal, not because of the feud between the families but the feud instilled in human psychology. There are a lot of things that define the status quo of an individual in contemporary times.
Financial capacity is first and foremost. Ethnicity is just in close quarters behind that. JJ+E makes both these issues feel redundant so much so that the narrative seems quite idealistic.
‘JJ+E’ Plot Summary – The classic Romeo Juliet Narrative
John John lives in a ghetto where a lot of refugees and “the neglected ones” live. Elizabeth, on the other hand, has never witnessed that kind of struggle. She is unaware of the harsh reality of the world. She had recently lost her mother, and the family is going through an emotionally rough patch. She has her little sister to take care of, and her father is still coping with the loss and learning how to bring up his daughters.
Elizabeth’s little sister Patricia falls from a cliff, and John John saves her from drowning with his friend, Sluggo. Frank, the father, feels overwhelmed by the gesture and brings the boys home and gives them dry clothes. That’s when John John sees Elizabeth for the first time. He is mesmerized. She looks like a dream too good to be true. On the other hand, Sluggo is more interested in the house and how it contrasts his reality.
Sluggo hears Frank saying that next week they would be out for a vacation. He takes that opportunity to break into the house as he had seen Frank pressing the number combinations to open the door lock when he came for the first time. John John disapproves of the burglary but accompanies his group of friends nonetheless.
John John gets into the same theatre school that Elizabeth got into by coincidence. It’s a blessing in disguise for the heart-bound John John. Elizabeth, too is intrigued by this charming young lad. Romance brews while other issues keep making their presence felt time and again. It tells us that no matter how tall you grow, your roots will impact your life in some way or the other.
A Promising Start that goes Stale
The starting few minutes of the film manage to keep you quite engrossed. You question the subjectivity of life. How something that is a luxury for some might be a necessity taken for granted by the other. John John and Elizabeth inhabited two very different worlds. There was a stark difference in their reality. It happens very rarely when both the parties involved can look beyond that without trouble. That is why I say that the love they shared was one of a kind.
The aesthetics capture your attention. The camera movements feel like they are romanticizing life in its truest form. The background score pushes you into a realm where you just want to let go of the barriers that our society has built for us.
But the writers are not able to reap on it. After the first 20 minutes, you know what will happen, and the screenplay never seems to take you by surprise. It becomes the same old story that you have seen a million times before. What’s more, it becomes even more cliche at every step. The strong foundation is just abandoned for an unexplored and “happily ever after” kind of ending.
Who killed Sluggo?
Sluggo had always been that child from the hood who had been involved in all sorts of nasty things. He had seen a hard childhood, and that had made him walk on the crooked path. He stole and got involved in a lot of illegal activities. He was dating a girl named Nancy. Nancy’s ex-boyfriend, Tariq, had not gotten over her. He often used to stalk Nancy. Sluggo tried to strong-arm him, and in response, he shot him point-blank. John John witnessed the whole event. He couldn’t process the sight he saw. In rage, anger, and despair, he breaks down, putting Sluggo’s head on his lap.
JJ+E Ending Explained – Did John John kill Tariq?
JJ fuming with anger takes a gun and goes to kill Tariq. In the meantime, his friend calls Elizabeth because he knew that only she would stop JJ from committing the crime. JJ points the gun towards Tariq but doesn’t shoot him. He makes him confess in front of the police that he had killed Sluggo. Since JJ also possessed a weapon, he was also taken into arrest. That’s when Elizebeth arrives at the scene and, to her relief, finds out that JJ took control of his anger and didn’t spoil his whole life.
Elizabeth follows the police van and gets herself also arrested to reunite with her love.
Streaming on Netflix, JJ+E puts up a mediocre storyline that has nothing new to offer. What saves the day meagerly is excellent cinematography that brings about a visual aesthetics to the whole film.
JJ+E (Vinterviken titled in Swedish) is a 2021 Romance Drama Film directed by Alexis Almström.