The eponymous summer vacation has its dark side revealed in HOLIDAY, an unforgettable exploration of the fraught, brutal experience of young womanhood
Winner: best director and best film at Fantastic Fest 2018
Winner: best film, best actress, best supporting actor, and best cinematography at the Danish Film Awards
“HOLIDAY refuses to cast judgment on its protagonist with its stark cinematography and long takes, letting lead Victoria Carmen Sonne’s subtle performance shine in this crime drama about imbalances of power.” — LA Times
Pretty blonde Sascha (Victoria Carmen Sonne) is the epitome of mainstream beauty, and is invited to join her Danish criminal boyfriend Michael (Lai Yde) on a no-expense-spared summer holiday on Turkey’s idyllic Turquoise Coast. The young woman’s presence requires her to take on the role of a human trinket, a girl-shaped bauble whose inclusion in the titular getaway with Michael and his colleagues comes with unspoken expectations and demands. And she knows it.
The feature film debut of Swedish director and writer Isabella Eklöf, HOLIDAY is marked by a fashion magazine gloss with its aesthetic of hyper-commodified femininity. The look of the film feeds shrewdly into a fearless critique of what happens to a young woman who has been objectified to the point where she can only understand her own identity through the very terms of her objectification. At the heart of the film lies an undeniably brutal rape scene that makes explicit the until-then ambient, rumbling suggestion of violence and threat that surrounds Sascha; as a young woman in this man’s world, violence is not just a possibility, but a day-to-day reality.
The neon-colored bikinis, night clubs, fancy drinks and crystal-clear swimming pools lie in sharp contrast to the dark revelations of Sascha’s journey, sparked into action when she meets free-spirited Dutchman Thomas (Thijs Römer). In the hands of a less capable, thoughtful, and original director, this scenario could easily collapse into the terrain of the cliched love triangle trope, but Eklöf knows the world is never so simple or clear-cut for women in situations like Sascha’s. Rather, violence becomes viral — a way of maintaining the status quo, even if that comes at the loss of agency and the acceptance of an identity that transcends two-dimensional commodified womanhood.
Like so much in Eklöf’s film, the title is both an invitation and a provocation. HOLIDAY is no escape, but rather an unflinching, urgent, and desperately important statement about the world so many young women find themselves in. (ALEXANDRA HELLER-NICHOLAS)
About director Isabella Eklöf
Although Swedish by birth, we’re claiming Isabella Eklöf as an honorary Dane. Eklöf cut her teeth as a runner on LET THE RIGHT ONE IN before attending and graduating from the Danish National Film School in Copenhagen.
In 2012 she received the Bisballeprisen, a prestigious Danish art prize, for her graduation film NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND, a portrait of the “drabness of evil,” the banal everyday life of a pedophile and his victim. The short was based on the true story of a Sabine Dardenne, one of the two survivors of Belgian kidnapper/murderer/pedophile Marc Dutroux.
Eklöf has quickly become one of the rising stars of genre films, first by co-writing the extraordinary fantasy drama BORDER with Danish director Ali Abassi, and then writing and helming the Danish-produced thriller HOLIDAY.
Eklöf lives and works in Copenhagen with her partner Daniel Karpantschof, another rising star in the Danish film scene.