Unfortunately, the title character in the Swedish import “Britt-Marie Was Here,” based on another Backman book — and a kind of distant literary cousin to Ove — isn’t unique or captivating enough to power an entire film, especially one this familiar and undemanding.
Britt-Marie (a low-key Pernilla August) is a dowdy, regimented 63-year-old homemaker haunted by childhood loss who leaves her distracted husband (Peter Haber) of 40 years after discovering he’s been unfaithful. In need of work, she takes the one position offered: a soccer coach at a crumbling youth recreation center in a rural village.
How Britt-Marie is paired with this job is a mystery: She admittedly wouldn’t know a soccer ball from a meatball. And despite the efforts of director Tuva Novotny and her coscriptors, Anders August and Oystein Karlsen, to square this, the film can’t quite surmount its fanciful conceit.
Britt-Marie digs into her new career and improbably wins over her “Bad News Bears”-like charges plus a smitten local cop (Anders Mossling) and her near-blind new roommate (Malin Levanon). But the movie, though at times engaging and relatable, never works up the requisite head of steam.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Playing: Starts Sept. 20, Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles