Review: Alive

Written and directed by Jimmy Olsson, Victoria (Eva Johansson) is disabled and yearns for intimacy, her assistant Ida (Madeleine Martin) offers to help by making a Tinder profile. Victoria gets a match but the guy she has matched with is very shady and Ida gets worried what might happen if they meet. Also starring: Philip Oros and Joel Ödmann.

Alive starts as it means to go on, it’s quietly pensive and extremely natural but at the same time it’s surprisingly funny. Victoria starts out as feeling as though she’s a mystery, due to her condition, she is a woman of few words and it’s hard to decipher what’s really going on in her mind because it seems to be a lot more than she can tell us. Johansson’s performance as Victoria is extremely strong and compelling, and that potency is not purely out of sympathy, she’s an interesting character with a great deal of emotion. There may be many restrictions on the ways that Johansson can express Victoria’s frustration but it comes across as no hinderance, as regardless she gives a heart-breaking and relatable portrayal.

Victoria has a great sense of humour, a curious nature and a bigger personality than most people would probably give her credit for. It’s an achievement of the writing to create such a rounded character with so few words. While her position may be one that’s very specific, the issue that’s she’s struggling with is much more universal, it’s a case of some things seeming simple to others when they would be a miracle for some, this is especially universal in relation to love and relationships. This issue is entirely elevated by pairing her with Ida, and getting to explore Ida’s relationship with her boyfriend and how it symbolises everything that Victoria wants.

Martin’s portrayal of Ida is spot on, she’s kind, generous and fiercely protective, she’s certainly the kind of person you’d want to take care of you, if you needed it. She has a very natural charm and likability which is lovely to watch, and she has very strong chemistry with Ödmann who plays boyfriend Björn, they have a sweet and lively relationship. Again, it works sincerely well to have this playing out alongside her friendship with Victoria, showing two very different worlds and how we can take certain things for granted.

The film also makes the choice to not overuse a score or music, it remains quiet and focused on the dialogue and characters for the most part but at the right moment it uses the score to inject a huge dose of suspense and tension, that feels as if it could almost launch into a full-on thriller. It was likewise a really fun choice for writer, director Olsson to play the dodgy Tinder guy, it takes someone with a good sense of humour to do that and considering the film also has one, it makes a lot of sense. Both of these choices say a lot to the high quality of writing and direction.

Alive is a film that pushes you to think of the things in life which we take for granted, it’s heartfelt and lovingly made, every moment feels purposeful and well crafted. It’s hard to capture the sort of intense frustration that Victoria is going through but this film handles it with respect and care. It’s surprisingly funny in its brilliant writing, the performances are flawless and the ending is particularly satisfying and witty. This is an exemplary case of bringing together the right group of people, at the right time, to make a fantastic film because there’s nothing to fault here.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯

Currently playing at the Cleveland Film Festival and streaming until the 28th April, so hurry up and check it out! 

It will also be competing in the Huesca International Film Festival in June & you can check out the trailer below!

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