Starring Alicia Vikander, Eva Green, Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance
The theme at TIFF this year is female filmmakers, which is why the latest film starring and produced by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander was on my list of must-see titles. Making its world premiere here in Canada, and looking for American distribution; Midway in, the full house of press started checking their phones. The walk-outs only made the debut film from Vikander’s own production house worse (c’mon guys, finish the movie if you stood in line to see it). While Euphoria won’t benefit from any award buzz, it’s also likely not to hit theaters until 2018. It’s topic of assisted suicide feels tried, while the setting similar to Youth and A Cure for Wellness. Vikander’s performance is far better than the movie itself.
Estranged sisters Ines (Vikander) and Emilie (Green) reunite for the first time in years before taking a trip to “the most beautiful place in the world”. Emilie is dying from cancer, after having both breasts removed, chemo; her body is covered with the disease. Ines only discovers this when they arrive at the most secluded and expensive assisted suicide facility in the world. “If you leave, I’ll still do it,” Emilie threatens, when her younger sister discovers the true purpose of their trip. All the horrible baggage of their childhood and the resentment they feel towards one another is aired in the six days leading up to Emilie’s planned exit.
Vikander’s performance is far better than the movie itself.
The third collaboration between Vikander (The Danish Girl, Jason Bourne) and writer/director Lisa Langseth proves only beneficial for the star. Vikander’s scenes show similar depth to previous projects. Green (Sin City, 300) however can’t match her and honestly has the more difficult role. Both beautiful women are toned down to play the dueling sisters that more often than not, end scenes in cat fights on the floor. While the point of view comes from Ines, who completely rejects her sister’s decision. Emilie meets other patients at the facility, that she comes to oppose their decision of ending life. The backstory fleshes out each character’s motivations if you stick with it, while Charlotte Rampling’s character works as a mediator for the sisters.
Certain scenes, showing swampy lily pads or over grown forests keep suggesting a darker theme that never appears. The music is often jolting when it appears, again suggesting some element that never materializes. Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) has few bizarre scenes of wisdom and dancing, offering the audience one more example of a person who has given up on life. The biggest failure here is to offer a side to assisted suicide plots we haven’t seen before. If it’s any consolation, this is not a film worthy of a walkout.
Vikander’s performance is the highlight in a movie that doesn’t cover new ground on the topic of suicide.