There are not a lot of films made about average people leading average lives, and maybe that is what makes Eat Sleep Die so refreshing. Writer-director Gabriela Pichler’s debut feature-length film centres on a young woman named Raša trying to make ends meet in a small Swedish town.
Raša is a factory worker at a company that packages fresh produce. Even though she is one of the company’s youngest and hardest-working employees, Raša is laid off. For the Montenegrin immigrant, this is devastating. Not only did working at the factory bring Raša happiness, but her paycheque supported both her and her sick father.
Employment opportunities Raša’s town are bleak. Even when her father moves to Norway to look for temporary work, the stubborn and often scrappy young woman is determined to stay and find a job closer to home. As a highschool dropout and Montenegrin immigrant, however, this is not easy. Like many people in her town, Raša begins to view her simple life as nothing more than the film’s title suggests.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Eat Sleep Die is that the film’s leading roles are all performed by first-time actors. Nermina Lukac shines in the role of Raša, bringing depth to her tough-girl veneer. The father-daughter relationship between Raša and her father feels genuine, and Milan Dragišić brings warmth to the paternal role.
Eat Sleep Die has won several awards in its home country, including Best Film at the Swedish Film Institute’s Guldbagge Awards, and will be Sweden’s entry for the Best Foreign Film category at the 2014 Oscars.
At its Vancouver premiere, audiences—particularly younger audience members—may be surprised by the connectedness they feel towards Raša. While Vancouver and small-town Sweden may seem worlds apart, frustrations about lack of employment, bureaucracy, and prejudice are universally relevant.
Eat Sleep Die screens at the European Union Film Festival on Friday (November 29) at 6:30 p.m. at the Cinematheque.