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The English-language debut of Sweden’s Lisa Langseth and her third collaboration with actress Alicia Vikander, their latest outing together suffers from a tonally inconsistent script. Despite two powerful, if distinctly different, performances by Vikander and co-lead Eva Green, the film ultimately never lives up to the promise it pronounces.
Following two very different sisters, Emilie (Eva Green with her otherworldly) beauty and Ines played by Vikander with her naturalism and oozing confidence, the film watches as the former drags the latter from her comfortable, if increasingly difficult world in New York to the European countryside. Unclear of her motives, Ines still agrees, only to quickly learn that Emilie’s reasoning for bringing her – to standby as she makes the decision to be euthanized after dealing with debilitating cancer for years. From there the film grows increasingly uncomfortable in it’s footing, never quite understanding what tone it’s hoping to strike or just how they want the sisters to be portrayed. At times sulky and petulant, others robotic and then of course frenzied with panic, Ines is a character who exists in an entirely different film than that of Green’s Emilie. Emilie, by contrast and due to how she’s played by Green, will be momentarily soft-spoken and angelic and take a complete 180 into someone whose harobored a tremendous grudge against her sister for years.
The failing lies in the script penned by Langseth, is clunky and overwrought, feeling the need to tell rather than show every hurdle the characters are going through. There is nothing wrong with showing the multi-facets of a woman’s psyche and/or allowing them to actually be characters with depth rather than personality traits but the script gets lost in trying to mold the characters into every scenario, making them what the scene needs them to be, rather then allowing the characters to evolve naturally and react to the scenes themselves. Ines’s closed off nature, Emilie’s dependency on her mother, Ines’s failing art career, all of it is delivered to us in heavy handed monologues.
It doesn’t help that beyond the haphazardly crafted script that the film is also dominated by oppressive visuals and a score that attempts and tuning you out completely from the nonsense happening onscreen. The cinematography by Rob Hardy is beautiful, certainly, in a way that any natural location such as there’s would be but the manner in which people are shot, plus the bizarre choices involving how to present Charles Dance’s character and a direction that relies on scenery shots for time chewers makes for pretty but vacant imagery.
There’s little need to talk once again about how great this cast is but they’re almost too great, managing to nearly distract us into thing that the crumbling narrative is something to be celebrated. Green runs the gamut of emotions (and personalities) over the course of the film, an edge to Vikander’s inherent sweetness. Vikander is playing the edgier role, mind you, but is so childlike and heart wrenching in a few moments that it’s easy to wonder what might’ve been had the roles been reversed. Dance too is given an amazing opening scene that implies a fire to be lit under the film but that scene gives way to very little as he’s unceremoniously written into the background.
Somewhere buried in this film is an interesting and prompting story. It asks intriguing questions about mortality, the right to choose when it comes to the terminally ill and the relationships and moments that define us while on earth but the film in turn offers us no closure. So grand are these questions and they deserved far greater delicacy rather than great implausibility when it comes to how the patients at this resort spent their final days. A film about life and death and all those brief, beautiful moments in between, Euphoria never achieves becoming what it set out to be.