Like a throwback to the Summer Of Love, minus the drugs, Sweden’s Ängsbacka festival is a chance for hippies of varying degrees of insanity to commune with nature, by chanting, purging and – literally – hugging trees.
A mixture of rudimentary psychotherapy and medieval torture, these Shamanistic rituals attract all sorts, and Robert Cannan and Corinna McFarlane’s revealing doc focuses on the faction encumbered with Nick, a cynical Aussie rugby coach who finds himself way out of his spiritual depth. “Chanting’s not going to help,” he grumbles. “The UN doesn’t chant.”
He’s got a point. There’s a fine line between group-help session and circle jerk, and you get the sense that the process through which some of these lost souls achieve peace is closer to Stockholm Syndrome than genuine self discovery.
Funny, but ruinously snarky, the film, like its subjects, seems to be seeking something it never quite finds. In this case, a story.