Sascha is intertwined with an imposingly piggish low-level drug lord. On a decadent trip to the Turkish Riviera, she encounters the charming Thomas and her hideously toxic relationship is thrown into painfully sharp relief. However, Is Sascha really the intimidated victim she appears to be?
Isabella Eklöf’s salty drama is as incendiary as it is intelligent and as vague as it is explicit. Featuring a scene that would send Gaspar Noé scrambling for his comfort blanket, Holiday mounts a fearless expedition to the very outer limits of the cinematic badlands.
Sascha is a fascinating woman to follow as she parties to excess making terrible life choices along the way. Her fragile complexities thicken the fog of complicity as she sub-exists on a diet of male abuse and MDMA.
Her motives for remaining in such a demoralisingly mephitic relationship are edgily ambiguous and her voracious appetite for toleration is enigmatic. For the most part, it appears Sascha is motivated by the pursuit of power and to some extent a sense of belonging. There is also a profound burden of loneliness that pervades her aura and further augments her state of mind. This rips open gaping wounds of awkwardness within the narrative that provokes some extremely uncomfortable questions but at the same time fosters rich character depth.
Perhaps the most important scene in the film sees her strewn on the road after a scooter crash caused by her dangling scarf. Pre-warned of the imminent danger in the previous scene this perfectly highlights her scatty recklessness. She is given a replacement as a gift designed to placate the violent tendencies of her boyfriend that perfectly cements the concept of protection from consequence.
Victoria Carmen Sonne pitches Sascha with a deadpan stoicism that disarms more than it enlightens and to say it is a committed performance would be an understatement. It is quite remarkable how she draws emotional resonance and audience empathy by hiding more than she shows. Lai Yde is also superb as the manipulative Micheal who simmers with the confidence of a man who graduated with honours from the Ben Kingsly school of evil bastards. Again, the actor has the balls to give him a heavy slug of charisma in order to truly weaponise his one-man assault on the #ME Too movement.
Isabella Eklöf crafted the film free from the shackles of censorship and was prepared to jettison a producer rather than compromise her vision. Trustful of her actors and investing their characters with personal experiences and social truisms she has delivered a scathingly honest picture.
On the surface, it is a shrewd drama centred around misdirected machismo and the chaotic velocity of sociopathy. Yet the deeper agenda of Holiday is one of that encompasses the self-destructive magnetism of materialism and psychological cost of fighting in the trenches of gender politics.
It is ironic that a film so preoccupied with the adverse consequences of judgementalism will itself be judged so extensively. However, be very warned, it is not the horrifically graphic sexual violence that stokes this snowflake melting blast furnace, but rather a stark representation of perceived autonomy in the face of undiluted degradation.
This is independent filmmaking at its conscientiously icy best that is sure to spark intensively frank discussion wherever it goes. If your stomach is strong enough you should seek it out as soon as someone is brave enough to give it a distribution deal.
Bradley Hadcroft |[rating=5]
Crime Drama | Denmark | Netherlands | Sweden, 2018 | 130 mins | – Extreme sexual violence, drug misuse | Currently Seeking Distribution |CINEMA. Denmark, 11 October 2018 | UK, 2nd August 2019 (Cinema) | Dir. Isabella Eklöf| Cast. Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römers