Sunday, 22 July 2018

Holiday: NZIFF Review

Holiday: NZIFF Review

An icy debut from Danish director Isabella Eklöf, Holiday's message is kind of clear - power corrupts.

Victoria Carmen Sonne is Sascha, who finds herself in an Aegean holiday, complete with all the trappings. That is to say, if the trappings come from the dirty money world of gangsters.

Under a bad blonde dye job, Sascha initially seems uneasy over settling in to gangster Michael's criminal family and slightly 18-30 tacky holiday world. But as the film progresses, she goes deeper in, her uncertainty mirrored by a burgeoning friendship with Tomas, an innocent holiday flirtation outside of the family.
Holiday: NZIFF Review

Bling, Bodrum and bodies may shimmer in Holiday, but there's an iciness to this film which is maintained throughout. The sun may shine, and everyone may appear to be having a good time, but nastiness is never far away, implied often more than an implicit.

Except for two scenes which set the rest of the film apart and which form the crux of what happens - spoilers prevent discussion, but the repugnancy of both makes for difficult viewing, that opens up much of a window into Sascha's world.

Isabella Eklöf has fashioned something both difficult and obtuse here, a startling film that really only has Sascha, Michael and Tomas in its frame. Other characters seem extraneous to events around them, details of them ignored and not fleshed out - a sign that nothing matters but what this gangster’s trophy girlfriend is undergoing.

Essentially riffing on power corrupting, the corrosion of criminals and the tentacles of ugly despair wrapping around them all, Holiday is trippy at times, sickening in others. The wallops don't come till near the end, with Eklöf maintaining the dread as much as is necessary, but never holding back.

Holiday seethes - and in parts too, the audience may do so as well.

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