Skip to main content
The Independent Critic

Johannes Albin Alfven
William Olsson
62 Mins.
 "The Traveler" Review 
Add to favorites

"The Traveler," as this film is known in its U.S. release, is the story of Albin, a young man who is about to complete his final examination for an MBA and already has a job with a bank. Suddenly, life as he has always known it simply stops.

His girlfriend, Lisa, tells him that he is incapable of love. He loses his job, and does not complete his final exam. Instead, Albin leaves his native Sweden for Berlin. In Berlin, he stays in a hostel and decides to become a writer.

The vast majority of "The Traveler" takes place while Albin is staying in "The Hostel." At first, he embraces this newfound freedom. He drinks, parties and makes friends rather easily. However, this being a hostel, these friends always eventually leave and his drinking begins to intensify and slowly downward spiral.

As written and directed by William Olsson, "The Traveler" is experimental cinema of the most interesting kind. It is emotionally compelling, visually hypnotic and nearly impossible to turn away from.

Johannes Albin Alfven portrays Albin, and through Olsson's sort of docu-feature approach, brings Albin to life through a pitch-perfect portrayal of a young adult on a well-defined path who suddenly seeks to be undefined. Olsson's knack for interesting visuals, and the accompaniment of a variety of musical interludes, makes "The Traveler" feel like one is taking a journey through Albin's life.

Likewise, those Albin encounters throughout the film are constantly interesting and Olsson has chosen these performers wisely. Rather courageously, the film only ever really hints at sexual encounters. Instead, the characters seem to form almost spontaneous intimacy before they must let go a mere few days later.

The characters Albin encounters include a young aspiring actress from Poland to a street musician to a group of friends with whom he explores Berlin's techno scene.

Yet, time and again, Albin ends up alone. His downward spiral begins to spiral upward as Berlin's famous Loveparade nears and Albin finds a job in Berlin and, finally, begins to find himself.

Olsson tells his story through the spoken word, visuals, relationships and music. He perfectly blends all of these into a film that literally screams with the richness of being human.

"The Traveler," at a mere 62 minutes, is an experimental film that works wonderfully thanks to the masterful vision of William Olsson and the stellar performance by Johannes Albin Alfven. Currently playing on the film festival circuit, it is a shame that more will not see this wonderful work by a visionary writer and director.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic