Welcome! This is the review of Loving Adults, a new Danish thriller that is being released this weekend on Netflix. The film follows the number of European productions that have found a home on Netflix. The streaming platform is quickly becoming the to-go place for international productions. People in the US and all over the world are able to watch TV series and movies from all over the world. And as Netflix becomes more of a global brand with each passing day, the number of international offerings on the platform only increases.
In this opportunity, the offering is a thriller with many twists and turns. The series is shot in that cold cinematography that only the Scandinavian industry knows how to pull off, and with a cool pace that makes each moment feel important, and the revelations come in the blink of an eye. Making a good thriller is very hard. The writers really need to think about their plot way before anything is shot by the director and the actors. Every piece has to fit, or everything falls down.
Loving Adults is directed by Barbara Topsoe-Rothenborg and stars Dar Salim, Sonja Richter, and Sus Wilkins. The film tells the story of Christian. A man who feels trapped inside a loveless marriage. Christian ends up finding love elsewhere, but when his wife Leonora finds out, leaving her will become more complicated than he initially thought. The film goes out of its way to frame it as a sort of narration by another character, making everything that happens in the film come from an unreliable source.
In recent times, the unreliable narrator has become one of the favorite tropes in writing. Fight Club made this style of writing quite famous, and both the book and the movie ended up becoming a cult-classic in their own right. However, it doesn’t matter how popular the trope is. The execution of such a device matters a lot. If done poorly, audiences will detach completely from the story, as it would seem that nothing said in the story really matters because everything sounds or is fake.
You also cannot go in the other way, where the unreliability of the narrator is so subtle that it shouldn’t even be there in the first place. Then the use of the device feels more like a gimmick than anything that really serves the story. If something hurts your story, you should leave it out. Sometimes it is hard to recognize these elements in writing, which is why it is always right to make others read what you write before calling the action on set.
Loving Adults manages to do both things very effectively. The movie could be a lot shorter, though. Some scenes feel like they are just there to stretch the narrative. There aren’t many, but the ones that feel like that stand out because the rest of the film is so focused on making the plot move forward. So, at least in the middle of the movie, the pacing ends up being hurt by too many instances of running in circles.
Outside of that, the plot of Loving Adults will keep you guessing about how Christian will be able to get out of this mess. There are a couple of plot twists here and there that become quite unexpected but end up spicing the story right when it was starting to get boring. The framing device with the narrator itself does end up feeling a bit like filler, though. A more lean and more mean version of the film without those sections would have been so much more potent.
When it comes to the actors, Dar Salim does the same as he always does, even when he isn’t playing a police officer in this movie. The actor is an acquired taste, for sure, and here, he feels like the weakest link in the chain. His lack of reaction in many parts of the story feels awkward. It might be a way to tell us how confused and in shock he is. However, outside of that, it feels like Salim is just not a very good actor, or at least not an actor with a lot of range.
If there is someone who shines for her range and intensity in the film, it is Richter, who transforms into this desperate housewife who has to witness her family crumble at her hands. The actress goes through an entire spectrum of emotions, and it feels both real and compelling, even though we wouldn’t like to be in her situation. She really is the start of the movie, even when the movie tries to make us follow Christian throughout the runtime.
Rothenborg doesn’t do anything really special when it comes to visuals. The scenes are very well framed, and the lighting is nice, nothing too complicated. These choices help sell the fact that this is a story about mundane people. People that you would never have thought they could get into such kind of trouble, but here we are. A bit more expressiveness when it came to the imagination would have been appreciated.
In general, Loving Adults is quite an entertaining thriller with enough twists and turns to keep most members of the audience in their seats. The ending feels a bit weak in comparison with the climax in the third act, and the movie decides to leave things in a very ambiguous way. Without a proper resolution the mystery of the film remains even when the credits roll, this will turn off and excite members of the audience in equal parts for sure.