Bleak but somehow seductive, this character-driven book adaptation dives deeply into sports culture, rape culture, and the place where they meet. In the tiny Swedish city of Beartown, the locals are practically obsessed with hockey. They show up to hoot and jeer in the stands, dissect games at the dinner table, treat the town's star players like young gods -- up to and including Peter, who was good enough at hockey to get out of Beartown and become famous, but unlucky enough in life to come crashing back down, reduced to coaching in his hometown while his wife and child grapple with a shadowy tragedy in the past. And then the act of violence that Beartown is built around occurs -- to tell more would be verging into spoiler territory -- and the contours of the town's pecking order is thrown into painfully sharp relief.
Beartown is slow, but beautiful. The visuals of snow-covered mountains and trees cast a spell as the camera roams upwards, away from the ordinary but still awful struggles of the people who make their home there: Peter, whose fierce zeal for hockey masks a brokenness underneath, his teen daughter Maya, who reaches out confidently in a new town for connections and grows to bitterly regret it, and the town's best player Kevin, who's crumbling under terrible forces he can't reveal to anyone. As a portrait of people in crisis, it's grim but wonderful; as a look at a town clawing at dignity through sports, it's chillingly revealing. Beartown's not a lot of fun to watch, but boy, you'll feel it.