Holiday - Holiday [Anti-Worlds Releasing - 2020]Holiday is a largely low-key, vapid, at times arty gangster picture with moments of nasty misogynistic violence & tense unease. The 2018 film is set in & around the port city of Bodrum on the Turkish Rivera, and follows the path of trophy girlfriend as she gets used to living with an unpredictable Danish crime boss on his summer getaway. From Anti-Worlds Releasing here we have a recent Blu Ray release of this controversial, yet well shot & often artily realized film.
Holiday is the first feature-length film directed & written by Copenhagen based Isabella Eklöf, who before this made 2011 short Noter fra kælderen- which was about a pedophile who ha a girl locked away in his cellar- so she’s no stranger to controversial subject matter. Holiday is slowly paced & often brightly sunny film- with a line of tension & unpleasantness running through its core.
The film opens with the tall, blond & naive Sascha(Victoria Carmen Sonne) making her way through the lounges of the deserted Bodrum airport - to start with we see her doing your normal holiday things- booking into a seaside hotel, lulling around the pool, watching animation team, trying to buy things in a shop- and her card geting refused. She gets picked up by an older well dressed man, and the edge/ unpleasantness starts to slip into this sunny & carefree trip, as he ignores her quite moaning about the money situation- the car is stopped near an expensive harbor, and he starts to berate then slap her several times, which really jangles one nerves- as just moments ago the film seemed bright, light, and carefree. As we move on we find our female lead going to a countryside villa- where drug boss Michael resides with his crew- one minute he's sleek, charming- the next controlling, cruel, and violent. There’s no firm plot/conventional storyline for much of the film, we just get snapshots of the groups' life- as they drink, take drugs & party around a pool, go out & eat, dance at garish neon-lit clubs, and hang out in the plush expensive villa. When out on her own one day at an ice cream pallor Sascha meets dutch friends Thomas & Bobby. Who have moored up their boat in Bodrum- the relationship clearly progresses between Thomas & Sascha as one evening the pair meet at the beach to take Mdma, and land up sleeping together.
Much of the films runtime takes place at the villa- and this is where a lot of the more troubling & disturbing stuff happens- Micheal drugs then manipulate Sascha limp body into sexual positions, he tries to strangle her then brutal-yet-seemingly nonchalantly rapes & sexual abuses her in the middle of the day, we also have a behind door beating of a gang member who has done wrong as Sascha & two children pretend nothing is going on in the next room- which is both tense & unsettling to watch. As the film moves towards its end Micheal becomes aware of Thomas & Sascha's liaison, and as you can imagine things don’t go well.
As a director Eklöf certainly has a talent for creating a feeling unease & tension in what should be a bright, joyful & buzzing location. She blends well short & artily filmed footage of sun, sea, sand & rolling coastal landscape, with neon edged & flamboyant party nighttime shots. Then of course ever so often she drops in violence, a unpleasant edge or unease- which mangers to unbalance one well. I've read reviews of this film that say it’s vapid, bland, largely uneventful & story-less, and I can certainly see that point of view. Eklöf very much comes Nicolas Winding Refn School of film-making, so if you don’t enjoy his more arty & sleek takes on genre films I don’t think you’ll enjoy this much at tall. But I found Holiday a very promising first feature-length film from Ms. Eklöf- and I’ll certainly look forward to seeing what she does next, as she does certainly have her own take on the whole sleek, plush, well-filmed yet subtle unsettling genre filmmaking.
On the extra side on this recent Blu Ray release, we get a twenty-minute interview with Isabella Eklöf discussing how she got into film making, how her early shorts came about, before going onto discuss the making of Holiday and her collaboration with Johanne Algren who wrote the original story the film was based on. We get a twenty-eight minute of question & answers with the director from when the film was screened in the UK. A three minute deleted scene, Willy Kyrklund an eleven-minute short from
2002 by Eklöf, and an original trailer.
This is now the second release I’ve seen from Anti-Worlds Releasing, the first being the wonderful art house slacker film Relaxer, and I must say I'm very impressed with this young labels bold and edgy choice of films to release. If you enjoy arty-yet- taut genre films with moments of shocking violence you need to check Holiday out, and I look forward to seeing what Ms. Eklöf does next.