Sweet Land


Sweet Land

Critics Consensus

Finding the right balance between subtle and sentimental, Sweet Land moves beyond other similarly-themed dramas with evocative cinematography that plays an equal role to the talented cast.



Total Count: 73


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,724
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Sweet Land Photos

Movie Info

A European exile finds herself a stranger in a strange land when she comes to the United States in this independent romantic comedy-drama. As a man ponders what to do with his family's estate after the death of his grandmother, he thinks back to how she first came to America shortly after World War I. Olaf (Tim Guinee) is a Norwegian-American farmer looking for a wife to share his home on the Minnesota prairie, and with eligible women in short supply locally, he sends away for a mail-order bride. Inge Ottenberg (Elizabeth Reaser) soon arrives at Olaf's doorstep, but while she's pretty, smart, and amiable, he's taken aback to discover she's not Norwegian but German, which after several years of anti-German propaganda does not make her popular with her new neighbors. Inge isn't very good with English, making it even harder to keep her background a secret, and the local pastor, Rev. Sorrensen (John Heard), is so outraged at the presence of a presumed Hun he refuses to perform their wedding. But Inge struggles to make friends with her new neighbors, in particular Olaf's best friend, Frandsen (Alan Cumming), a gadget fancier whose wife, Brownie (Alex Kingston), is better with mechanical items than he is. In time, Inge's cheerful nature and love of music begin to make an impression on the community as she shares her favorite tunes on her ever-present gramophone. Sweet Land was the first feature film from writer and director Ali Selim. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Elizabeth Reaser
as Inge Altenberg
Tim Guinee
as Olaf Torvik
Lois Smith
as older Inge
Alan Cumming
as Frandsen
John Heard
as Minister Sorrensen
Tom Gilroy
as Karl Vik
Stephen Pelinksi
as Older Lars
Stephen Pelinski
as older Lars
Paul Sand
as older Frandsen
Sage Kermes
as Mae Torvik
Karen Landry
as Rose Torvik
Robert Hogan
as older Olaf
James Cada
as Minister Thorwald
Charlotta Mohlin
as Else Jorgensdatter
Stephen D'Ambrose
as Clerk of Court
Raye Birk
as Postal Clerk
Jodie Markell
as Donna Torvik
Stephen Yoakam
as Einar Torvik
James R. Bakkom
as Station Master
Tony Pappenfuss
as Gentleman Bidder
Wayne A. Evenson
as Judge Sundby
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News & Interviews for Sweet Land

Critic Reviews for Sweet Land

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (11)

  • Here is a nicely photographed, but bland, insipid and weirdly passive-aggressive little film.

    Sep 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Minnesota between the wars is a bone yard for dreams, yet, like Babette's Feast, the film plucks a tiny miracle from stony ground.

    Sep 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Echoing Malick's 'Days of Heaven' in the way it captures the majesty of the American countryside, this is a small gem that's worth seeking out.

    Sep 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A film of uncommon grace, one that transports you to an America that seems innately familiar even though you have never seen it depicted on-screen quite like this before.

    Feb 2, 2007 | Rating: 4/4
  • As opposed to the bulk of low-budget films, the look here is lush and beautifully crafted; even the make-up is excellent.

    Feb 2, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Terrific acting, a perfectly captured period setting, and a simple, aching farm courtship, that's all Sweet Land is.

    Jan 26, 2007 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for Sweet Land

  • May 31, 2013
    Worth seeking out, this bare tale of a German immigrant's attempt at assimulation in a wartime Minnesota suspicious of any foreigners is steady and sure, and beautiful throughout, not rushing to its long telegraphed conclusion.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2011
    It really does an excellent job of drawing you into the period of the 40's heartwarming story. A very slow paced movie that takes draws you into the life of a women who to escape Germany in the 40's, agrees to marry a family acquaintance in rural Minnesota. The whole movie rest on Elizabeth Reaser as the audience's point of access and pivotal role in the movie (and by the way she does not speak English and none of the farmers speak German including her husband-to-be). She is excellent at conveying her emotions and frustration as an intelligent woman who is trapped by her lack of effective communication and the prejudices of German Americans during WWII. Highly recommended for 3rd generations immigrants who have only heard their grandparents story.
    Bill C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    What a nice movie! This is a perfect example of the kind of movie that I am always searching for. One of those little gems that I can curl up on the couch and let myself be carried away by. I just loved everything about it. I originally found it by searching for movies that Elizabeth Reaser was in. I really like the roles she chooses. I am so happy that I stumbled across this wonderful movie.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2008
    Okay overall, but the story line moved pretty slow and jumped from present time to past too much.
    Nikki M Super Reviewer

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