A movie that puts under-represented groups in the forefront is hard to come by, but Swedish Writer and Director, Jimmy Olsson brings an emotional (but not melodramatic) tale of the little human needs that exist in us all through the eyes of his lead, Victoria, who is in a wheelchair, in his short film Alive. In the same breadth, we get the perspective of her caretaker, Ida, who as an able-bodied woman, has assumptions about her own about the disabled. I had the pleasure of experiencing this film and finding myself enthralled by these two female characters and their relationship that continuously play-off each other in the story.
(Warning – Spoilers Ahead)
In Alive, we are introduced to Ida taking care of Victoria with every day tasks. It’s not until Victoria meets Ida’s boyfriend that she starts to crave affection herself. When she confines her desires with Ida, the latter opens a Tinder profile for her. Ida wants the best for Victoria, but she doesn’t believe she will have luck getting a match due to her disability. It isn’t until Victoria mentions she has found someone through the dating app that Ida gets curious, concerned, and rather, protective.
This was a great and impactful film overall, centering the conversation between two different women and a perception that those outside of the disabled community often take for granted. I found myself wondering how Victoria’s needs would be fulfilled throughout, and how Ida’s assumptions would impact her relationship with her caree. The suspense with Victoria’s mysterious Tinder suitor and whether he was real or her own ruse kept me on edge. The ending served as a surprise, but for the sake of not spoiling the end, I will just leave it at that.
Visual-wise, the scenes were tasteful, using the benefit of close-ups and perspective shots to paint each of their inner desires and communication very well. There is a great juxtaposition scene that I thought was brilliant. The two actresses – Eva Johansson (Victoria) and Madeleine Martin (Ida) – captured their individual character’s spirits and emotion perfectly. In the end, those like Ida are forced to reevaluate what they deems as a sensitive topic — That the disabled are no different in wanting love and closeness just like any neurotypical. In these social-distancing times, we can all collectively agree how it’s like when access to intimacy is temporarily taken away from us. Olsson brilliantly captured the heart of a well-delivered story under 30 minutes.
Alive was set to premiere in the Cleveland International Film Festival this year, but due to the Covid-19 crisis, it will be screened online.