For her debut feature, director Isabella Eklöf brings an unblinking eye to the life of a modern moll. “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.
“Holiday” begins languidly, with blond beauty Sascha (Sonne) living a sunlit life in the Turkish Riviera, where she accompanies her older Danish drug lord boyfriend, Michael (Lai Yde), and his varied group of accomplices and hangers-on. The brightly colored days are filled with drives in convertibles and trips to the ice cream shop, while the booze-fueled nights are filled with bass-heavy parties at Michael’s mountain villa.
But soon it’s clear that this life is one of casual cruelty and violence, and the camera refuses to cut away from Sascha’s experiences as we bear witness to them. The choices by Eklöf and her co-writer Johanne Algren are deliberate in what they give and what they hold back.
Eklöf doesn’t seem to care if you like her film or her characters — including the protagonist — and it’s this boldness that keeps you watching. “Holiday” has some grueling scenes that will test some viewers’ stamina, but the payoff is getting to watch an audacious film that never flinches though it knows its audience may recoil.
In Danish and English with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale, Glendale; on VOD, Feb. 26