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.



Reviews Counted: 73

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,728


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.9/5

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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
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
Lois Smith
as older Inge
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 (26)

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

Sep 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | 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…
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…
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

Sweet and low-key, Sweet Land is a movie that likely will leave you wishing you liked it more.

Jan 18, 2007 | Rating: C+

Audience Reviews for Sweet Land


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. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


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.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


Really good movie.

Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]In "Sweet Land," Inge(Elizabeth Reaser) arrives in Minnesota in 1920 from Europe with a suitcase and a phonograph, hardly speaking any English. After a long wait at the train station, her fiance, Olaf(Tim Guinee), and his friend, Frandsen(Alan Cumming), pick her up but at the church, the minister(John Heard) is shocked to hear that Inge is German, refusing to marry them.(There being a great deal of anti-German prejudice in the wake of World War I and her membership in the Socialist Party does not help.) Frandsen's wife's(Alex Kingston) cousin(Ned Beatty), a banker, cannot help and the local official says that only proper documentation will suffice.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"Sweet Land" is a charming and luminous movie with a good cast but sadly the climax is both predictable and contrived. The movie's structure is rather intriguing as its framing sequence is set in not one time period, but two; the 1960's where Inge's husband has died and the present day where Inge's grandson, Lars, now middle-aged considers selling the family land. These two settings set up the major themes of the movie, love and the importance of land, perfectly.(A common refrain is "farming and banking don't go together.") This is love not just in a romantic sense but for all of humanity and all nationalities.(At one point in the past, everybody in this country had an ancestor who came here from somewhere else.) The main setting, the 1920's, is an age of progress(which sadly does not include birth control) for the farmers but also one of economic turbulence. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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