Netflixable? A Swedish “Groundhog Day” that knows it’s “Groundhog Day” — “One More Time”

Amelia had a pretty good time on her 18th birthday. Popular and beautiful, with a whiff of lazy mean girl about her, she drank and danced and shunned those nerdy “drama kids” like everybody else.

But something happens on 40th birthday that causes her to revisit her 18th, over and over again.

Yes, “One More Time” is a Swedish “Groundhog Day,” watchable in English or in the Muppet Show chef’s mother tongue. But that moment when it admits as much as over-and-over-again Amelia (Hedda Stiernstedt) tries to get answers is just one way this charming variation-on-a-theme wins you over.

Amelia has gone through her version of Kubler-Ross’s “stages,” adding “confusion” to the list that includes “denial” and “anger” and combining “depression” and “acceptance” as she works through that 18th birthday, beginning to end, repeatedly.

Finally, she’s turned to her former friend, that “drama kid” (Miriam Ingrid) who grew up to be a famous singer-songwriter (Tove Edfelt). Fiona showed up at Amelia’s 18th birthday party — they share a birthday — uninvited. She showed up despite the fact that she’d already tried to play a song she wrote at the school talent show, and Amelia walked out, just like everybody else in their class.

And even though this kid’s been hurt by the end of their friendship, she hears Amelia’s “crazy” story out, and serves up the answer — “Groundhog Day.”

Amelia’s “never seen it.” But as Fiona’s Mom runs this 2002 town’s video store, Amelia arm-twists Fiona into fetching that DVD, passing up “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “Back to the Future” to get to it. That’s how Amelia figures out what we’ve spotted the moment she wakes up, 18, a second time.

Amelia’s got to learn to be “nicer” if she ever wants to break this “time loop.”

With “Groundhog Day” being one of my all time favorites, and probably one of yours, the only hope “One More Time” has of pulling us in is seeing what the filmmakers do with that too-similar-plot.

There’s a bit of “Before I Fall” fatalism in this version, as screenwriters Sofie and Tove Forsman hint at dire consequences, moonshine poisoning, shattered friendships and relationships that demand to be broken with every attempt Amelia makes to change her fate.

Even as she struggles through possible solutions to her trap and complains “Nothing I do matters” and turns reckless when nothing she tries works, we sense consequences to every action Amelia takes.

“You’ll regret this the rest of your life,” she warns her bestie (Elinor Silfversparre), who craves a hookup with a guy she crushes on. A drunken “tell all of you your future” speech at a later incarnation of that party climaxes with a heartfelt hug of someone the script doesn’t need to tell us will die in those intervening 20 years.

The third act has heart-tugging moments and a few twists that I didn’t see coming as I guessed “What possible directions can they take from here?” all the way through it.

“Groundhog Day” variations are always about life’s second chances, “fixing” something that’s gone wrong and digging the trapped character, in Punxsutawney or “Palm Springs,” out of the bitter rut their life has tumbled into. That’s a universal longing, which is why this plot keeps coming back, again and again, going back to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

What if I hadn’t done this or that and life had turned out differently?

This isn’t the best “version” of this “do over” story ever. But it pushes a lot of the right buttons and is just different enough to be worth revisiting “Groundhog Day” “One More Time,” here in the company of cute young Swedes.

Rating: TV-MA, sexual references, binge-drinking teens

Cast: Hedda Stiernstedt, Elinor Silfversparre, Miriam Ingrid, Tove Edfelt, Maxwell Cunningham, David Tainton

Credits: Directed by Jonatan Zetzler, scripted by Sofie Forsman and Tove Forsman. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:26


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.