Euphoria: There is no happy ending
by Vassilis Economou
- TORONTO 2017: Lisa Langseth helms her third consecutive collaboration with Alicia Vikander, a sensitive drama co-starring Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling
Forming one of the most successful Swedish duos of recent times, Stockholm-born director and playwright Lisa Langseth and Gothenburg native actress Alicia Vikander have had an ongoing professional relationship for the past seven years. They started to collaborate in Pure [+see also:
film profile] (2010), which was the debut feature for both, and later in Langseth’s sophomore effort, Hotell [+see also:
film profile] (2013). Since then, Vikander has won an Academy Award for The Danish Girl [+see also:
interview: Paco Delgado
film profile] and launched her own production company, Vikarious. Her first production with this outfit is Langseth’s third feature, Euphoria [+see also:
film profile], which also marks their third consecutive collaboration. The film is taking part in the Platform section of the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival.
After a long period apart, Emilie (Eva Green) reunites with her younger sister, Ines (Vikander), a photographer who lives in New York. They both embark on a trip to Europe that will involve an unexpected series of events. Emilie will ask her sister to join her at a secluded mansion ensconced deep in a forest. Upon their arrival, they will be welcomed by Marina (Charlotte Rampling), who runs the establishment and reveals that this is a place for those who want to enjoy a serene end to their lives. Terrified Ines learns from Emilie that she’s terminally ill and that she wants to spend the last remaining days of her life with her. This turn of events will lay bare the sisters’ relationship.
Euphoria, which Langseth penned and directed, is a delicate drama that deals with the extremely sensitive topic of voluntary euthanasia, but it is not limited to that aspect, as it aims to further explore the relationship between the alienated sisters. Judging from their contrasting personalities, they are worlds apart. The introverted, shy and almost victimised Emilie is forced to withstand Ines’ stubbornness, along with her cold, cynical, rebellious approach to life and to those closest to her. As the sisters overcome their differences and become more open to each other, the revelations will cause edgy conflicts that are at odds with the location and the occasion. Inevitably, the narration constantly drifts away from facing the cruelty of a clinical, painless end as the attempt at a sisterly reconciliation comes to dominate the story.
Marking her debut in the English language, Langseth has sought out an A-list female cast, which had plenty of potential to transform Euphoria into a bleak, existential drama with just the right amount of inner emotional conflict. Furthermore, her previous works prove that she’s capable of fully developing characters and dealing with challenging subjects. But despite the excellent premise, the film does not deliver on its ambition, as the characters often feel extremely schematic and the unconvincing narration struggles to reinforce the emotions. Euphoria is a perfectly constructed film that is enticing visually and could work on paper, but it leaves the bitter aftertaste of a missed opportunity to become a masterful piece of drama that follows in the Scandinavian tradition. It is a meritorious attempt by Langseth to deal with this issue, but Euphoria is likely to be criticised on account of its inability to fulfil the great expectations that it created.
Euphoria is a Swedish-German co-production by Patrik Andersson, Frida Bargo (B-Reel), Alicia Vikander, Charles Collier (Vikarious) and Dancing Camel Films. British company Great Point Media handles the international sales.
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