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KARLOVY VARY 2024 Competition

Review: Loveable


- Lilja Ingolfsdottir’s debut feature is a psychological melodrama boasting excellent performances, but the final result is heavily impacted by a rushed, chaotic closure of the narrative arc

Review: Loveable
Oddgeir Thune and Helga Guren in Loveable

Sigmund (Oddgeir Thune) is often away from home on business; Maria (Helga Guren) juggles her career with taking care of her four children. Through the first few minutes, we find out that Maria left a toxic relationship but later fell in love with Sigmund after meeting him at a party hosted by mutual friends. Driven by passion and pure feelings, they got married and led a seemingly great life for the next seven years. One day, Sigmund comes back from a business trip; at first glance, Maria seems relieved to see him after enduring a horrible day full of misfortunes and trouble with her kids. But something is broken, and we might be puzzled to see how quickly the situation escalates.

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This is the gripping setup of Lilja Ingolfsdottir’s debut feature, Loveable [+see also:
interview: Lilja Ingolfsdottir
film profile
, which world-premiered in the Crystal Globe Competition of this year’s Karlovy Vary IFF, where it won a total of five prizes to boot (see the news). This Norwegian psychological melodrama can boast the presence of two charismatic, relatable leading actors, who play their parts more than competently, embodying the average Western couple in their forties torn between financial uncertainty, work-related stress and unresolved inner conflicts. At first, viewers might not understand why their problems would prompt Sigmund’s willingness to divorce Maria so swiftly, but we will get some answers along the way.

After Maria leaves her flat and begins living alone, Ingolfsdottir’s focus remains on her and her attempts to rebuild relationships and find meaning in her new life as a single mother. We get to know more about her past and her troubled relationship with some of her closest relatives, including her eldest daughter Alma (Maja Tothammer-Hruza) and her mother (portrayed by veteran thesp Elisabeth Sand, a brief yet impactful presence). She’s helped in this process – at least in part – by a rather enigmatic therapist (Heidi Gjermundsen).

Although they may be somewhat perplexed, viewers might be intrigued to follow Maria’s painful path of self-realisation, questioning why almost all of the “guilt” seems to be constantly placed on her, and why little attention is paid to her husband and her relatives, who offer her almost no support.

What doesn’t work here is the outcome of such a path, depicted in the last 20 minutes of the picture. On the whole, the closure of the narrative arc comes off as very rushed and chaotic, ultimately destroying – at least partially – the high level of credibility and realism achieved throughout most of the film. We realise we’ve been seeing a divorce tale about the struggles of today’s urban life – wherein it’s hard to translate feelings and fears into words, and sincerity doesn’t come easy – but we clearly sense that more time and more finely tuned character development would have been highly beneficial.

Loveable is a Norwegian production staged by Nordisk Film Production and co-produced by Amarcord (Norway). Copenhagen-based sales agent TrustNordisk is in charge of the picture’s international sales.

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