Spotlight: Alive (2020)

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Director: Jimmy Olsson

Starring: Eva Johansson, Madeleine Martin

Review Author: Tony

Perhaps one of my few regrets of last year was the lack of output overall on the blog, especially in my favourite category Spotlight. We established spotlight so we could take a break from tent pole movies and collaborate with aspiring and lesser known filmmakers in ways to promote their work either through review, interviews and writeups. 2019 was a wonderful year for me personally as I moved out, got a new job, and got engaged, unfortunately all this good news was also quite a transition and shamefully we only wrote two Spotlight articles last year. Luckily, I’ve found my footing and concentrated on a more consistent writing schedule to produce more articles across all our categories.

First, I’d like to thank the writer and director, Jimmy Olsson, for reaching out with the opportunity to view his wonderful short film, Alive. Sourcing films and shorts for Spotlight is a difficult task due to the abundance of talented filmmakers out there, the problem is finding them; So when they reach out, it’s very much appreciated. What I’m even more grateful for is what a great first Spotlight for 2020 to remind us of why we put so much weight into this category.

Victoria is a disabled woman who is cared for by her assistant Ida. Victoria longs for a romantic connection that is amplified after seeing Ida and her boyfriend’s relationship. Ida helps Victoria by making her a profile on Tinder. Ida’s intentions become skewed when she becomes wary of Victoria’s match on the app and becomes concerned whether or not to intervene.

Alive is a very human story about our longing for intimacy and our internal prejudices despite our good intentions. Victoria is charming and sharp witted but sees her disability as a barrier to finding love and/or intimacy. She sees Ida’s relationship with her boyfriend and feels her circumstance makes it unattainable. In a heartbreaking moment, Victoria confides her longing for affection to Ida. Ida is a kind-hearted person and cares for Victoria so she sets her up on the dating app Tinder to raise Victoria’s spirits and to show her she is as deserving of love as anyone. Despite her good intentions, Ida becomes worried as Victoria finds a match and judges her suitor by both appearance and intention.

What starts as a gesture of kindness turns into a moral dilemma and a source of conflict between these two characters who care for each other. Ida becomes concerned for Victoria’s safety, she does not trust Victoria’s judgement and questions how honest she has been about her disability., Victoria counters that she is not helpless and allowed to make her own decisions and wants to feel “Alive”. I won’t spoil anymore of the story but it finishes on a wonderfully witty and light note.

I thoroughly enjoyed the subtle film-making of Alive, Olsson understands that less is more with minimalist dialogue and visual acting that says more in a glance or smile than an entire monologue would. As poignant as Alive is, there’s a lot of heat and humour throughout. I will also give Olsson some patriot points from a proud Irishman for his inclusion of a Katie Taylor fight in one scene.

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