Director: Jimmy Olsson
Screenwriters: Jimmy Olsson
Starring: Eva Johansson, Madeleine Martin, Joel Ödmann
Swedish filmmaker Jimmy Olsson’s follow-up to successful shorts 2nd Class and Whatever Happened to Ms Longstocking is the tender and heart-warming Alive, a film eligible for the Best Foreign Short at this year’s Oscars.
Blending humour and sadness to profound effect, the Swedish-language film tells the story of a disabled woman named Viktoria (Eva Johansson) who spends her time with a variety of carers but forms a particularly close bond with Madeleine Martin’s Ida. Ida begins a relationship with Bjorn (Joel Ödmann) which leads Viktoria to yearn for an intimate relationship of her own. Ida helps Viktoria to create a dating profile, but a worrisome match causes tension between Viktoria and Ida as the latter’s anxiety around Viktoria’s safety and happiness begins to cause unease.
One of the key themes of Alive is about accepting that disabled individuals can make their own choices, with Ida allowing Viktoria to pursue her date in spite of her initial misconceptions. This is powerfully done, with the contrast between the two heightened as their respective pessimistic and optimistic outlooks collide, the two central performances driving the film’s core themes and messaging, and presenting a depiction of disability on screen that differs from the norm in how positive it is.
It is this chemistry between the leading duo that makes the film so enjoyable, their relationship feeling detailed and tangible even in the relatively short 23 minute run-time, but credit must go to Olsson’s work on the screenplay and in direction, as Alive seems perfectly paced – a genuinely difficult thing to get correct in a short film – with each frame as immaculately photographed and presented as a major feature film.
An immersive experience that feels genuinely warm, Alive is another fantastic short film for screenwriter-director Jimmy Olsson that is led by two immaculate performances. So far as quick-bite life-affirming films go, Alive is certainly one to consider, its message of celebrating strength of character and the good in humanity being a timeless one that is delightfully realised in this short film.