Author Topic: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama  (Read 1376 times)

DukeDeMondo

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Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« on: June 08, 2019, 08:39:57 PM »
I didn’t know whether to give this a thread of its own or just stick it in the Films You’ve Seen one or what the fuck to do with it.

Debut feature from Swedish writer / director Isabella Eklöf, who also co-wrote Border. We’re in for a rough old time of it from her, if this stomach-knackering number is any indication.

A young woman, Sascha she’s called, shows up in Bodrum at the behest of her middle aged drug lord boyfriend. She’s going to spend a week or a couple weeks or whatever dancing and drugging and sunning with him and his friends and employees. She’s going to have a rare old time of it. This is what’s going to happen.

Soon enough she meets this Dutch fella, nice enough sort that used to work in sales or something like this but has long since ditched the Sales for Sails and now spends his days bobbing about the high seas in a boat. This is all he wants to do with himself, is bob about in a boat. They cross paths now and again, Sascha and Boat, often with Drugs observing from a distance. One night they get lit up on MDMA and spend an age biting at other’s fingertips on the beach. Soon after, Sascha inadvertently – or maybe not – leads Drugs to where Boat is pulled up in the harbour, and following a bit of properly queasy getting to know you the stage is set for a prolonged bit of spider/fly that had the carpet fucking sapping beneath my feet.

She’s impossible to read, Sascha. Doesn’t say very much. Doesn’t always betray a huge amount of personality or emotion. An incredible opening credits dance sequence brings to mind the first few minutes of Do The Right Thing if Rosie Perez had been born on Pluto. Casts her as something absolutely remote and alien and unknowable, and that’s pretty much how she remains for most of the film. She’s slapped about, she’s sexually assaulted in a horrific, and horrifically explicit, scene arriving about two thirds of the way through, but she also luxuriates in all that that violence affords her and she’s not beyond orchestrating some herself. She has a rare old time of it on the Molly, she happily accepts the ludicrously expensive gifts that Drugs presents her with, and she gladly ignores the roaring and crying and wailing from adjacent rooms when it’s the turn of others to annoy her boyfriend in some way or another.

I think it’s pretty fucking impressive, this. Times I thought it was all becoming a wee bit Arthouse Extreme By Numbers, but in the end I think there’s more to it than that. This monstrous sort of apparatus that it depicts, this machinery that these characters are all caught up in and seemingly happy to be caught up in because between the crunches and the lurches it makes for an extremely comfortable existence, away deep down in its belly. What violence they endure is always directed on towards someone a cog or two further across or further down. Never at the cogs themselves.

But. Thoroughly nauseating. One scene that has stuck with me depicts a young fella bestowing lavish gifts upon the people who were kicking the fuck out of him only a scene or two scenes before. Handing bottles of expensive booze to folk whose knuckles are still all bloodied from the force with which they were driven into his face.

He’s soon rewarded with an envelope stuffed with cash.

Work with the machine and the machine will work with you. Work against it and you’ll be fucked up. It’s just not always clear what way the threads are supposed to run.

Fantastic, anyway, and well worth your time, with the caveat that it is, as the thread title says, hugely unpleasant.

Has anyone else seen it? It’s available on Mubi at the minute, if you have that.

zomgmouse

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2019, 01:53:12 AM »
I'm glad you say it's available on Mubi because previously it was only available on Amazon and for whatever reason they cut 7 minutes from the theatrical runtime, presumably the 7 crucial minutes that contextualise the entire story?

I've not seen this and I've not seen either version but this is what I've been told so hopefully if it's out there this gives hope that I'll be able to find the full version at some point rather than the Amazon rip.

grassbath

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2019, 10:01:05 PM »
Just watched this. Very good indeed, and absolutely anxiety-inducing. Even before any nastiness had come right out into the open, it explored a wrongness that I've felt before in connection with such settings without really knowing it. Sunshine and glitz, clinking plates and glasses, white sands, the glow of a nightclub reflecting on evening surf and distant thumping music. The smooth surfaces of power.

She’s impossible to read, Sascha. Doesn’t say very much. Doesn’t always betray a huge amount of personality or emotion. An incredible opening credits dance sequence brings to mind the first few minutes of Do The Right Thing if Rosie Perez had been born on Pluto. Casts her as something absolutely remote and alien and unknowable, and that’s pretty much how she remains for most of the film.

I'm pretty sure the dancer in the opening sequence wasn't Sascha, but the older woman in the family, the one who coaxed Sascha inside when the unpleasantness started kicking off. Which is a really interesting choice in itself.

Comparisons with Irreversible seem pretty inevitable, but I think this is saying something more substantial, if no more cheerful.

DukeDeMondo

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2019, 10:42:02 PM »
I'm pretty sure the dancer in the opening sequence wasn't Sascha, but the older woman in the family, the one who coaxed Sascha inside when the unpleasantness started kicking off. Which is a really interesting choice in itself.

You see that's what I thought. I was sure it was the older woman, but then I read a couple reviews and they said it was Sascha so I assumed I was wrong.. It isn't Sascha, though, is it?

And I agree,  that is properly fascinating, that they chose her.

gilbertharding

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 03:00:46 PM »
*Cliff Michelmore leaves thread disconsolate*

Shaky

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 03:16:34 AM »
*Cliff Michelmore leaves thread disconsolate*

I larfed.

zomgmouse

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 03:34:05 PM »
Just watched - truly brutal, cold and difficult watching. In a great way. A terrific grasp of form and perspective.

You see that's what I thought. I was sure it was the older woman, but then I read a couple reviews and they said it was Sascha so I assumed I was wrong.. It isn't Sascha, though, is it?

And I agree,  that is properly fascinating, that they chose her.

Definitely the older woman. Really cements the cycles of violence and misogyny and intergenerational effects of said violence and misogyny.

Comparisons with Irreversible seem pretty inevitable, but I think this is saying something more substantial, if no more cheerful.

Yeah I guess even down to the fact that the rape scene is one long static take during which someone comes in, sees what's happening, and then leaves (which in Irreversible was an accident that Noé kept in but here I'm guessing was a deliberate choice, especially the fact that the person who walked in was the other young woman of the group).

Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2019, 06:11:36 PM »
Has anyone else seen it?

Just watched it. That's 87 minutes I'll never get back. Boring, pointless and a complete waste of time.

chveik

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2019, 06:20:09 PM »
tried to watch it too & also thought it was shite. I love your reviews Duke but it seems to me that your enthusiasm is a bit misguided at times.

zomgmouse

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2019, 01:12:37 AM »
Just watched it. That's 87 minutes I'll never get back. Boring, pointless and a complete waste of time.

Not sure if it changes much but that runtime looks like you watched the cut/censored version which deletes a key scene. But also I'm not sure if you weren't enjoying it otherwise whether the addition of that scene would alter your view of it. But then who knows, it's pretty pivotal.

Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2019, 02:50:29 AM »
Probably will give it a miss if it's unpleasant.

zomgmouse

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2019, 03:32:05 AM »
Probably will give it a miss if it's unpleasant.

Unpleasant deliberately. Surely that's different?

Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 10:36:56 AM »
Not sure if it changes much but that runtime looks like you watched the cut/censored version which deletes a key scene. But also I'm not sure if you weren't enjoying it otherwise whether the addition of that scene would alter your view of it. But then who knows, it's pretty pivotal.

I did think that. Although I did find the central performance very difficult to relate to and understand as a human being. Also it didn't seem to be covering any new ground and most of the scenes bored me. But again, maybe the cut scene made it all click. The rape scene cut just as he was about to get his lad out.

I'm a big admirer of Irreversible, incidentally.

icehaven

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2019, 10:46:59 AM »
I read a review of this the other day and found myself getting angry just from the description as I've realised recently I'm sick to fucking death of the endless amount of films in which people are nothing but nasty cunts to each other with seemingly no real point to make about anything. We started watching Bushwick on Netflix the other day and I had to turn it off before the intro had even finished as it was showing an apparent apocalypse in real time yet already virtually everyone was behaving like desperate savages, beating and raping each other literally 10 minutes after the bomb or whatever it is had dropped and before they even knew what was going on. And I guess it might be age/experience related too but I find it a bit patronising that anyone would think there's any need to make a film to show that the world of drug dealing is brutally violent and misogynistic, well no shit. I suppose it's a counter to depictions of the glamorous side that downplay the requisite violence and cruelty, however I'm struggling to think of many films that really do this.

I do realise this is just my own personal thing, and it's not that I think these films shouldn't exist, I just can't watch them, however well made they are. But then I'm still amazed at not just the existence but the popularity of the torture pron horror genre, just can't get my head around why anyone would want to watch that kind of shit.

grassbath

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2019, 11:02:19 AM »
Sorry, but this film is making a point - a complicated and unpleasant one to have to grapple with, but a point nonetheless. It's a far cry from 'torture porn.'

I find it a bit patronising that anyone would think there's any need to make a film to show that the world of drug dealing is brutally violent and misogynistic, well no shit. I suppose it's a counter to depictions of the glamorous side that downplay the requisite violence and cruelty, however I'm struggling to think of many films that really do this.

Watch the film.

icehaven

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2019, 11:52:06 AM »
Sorry, but this film is making a point - a complicated and unpleasant one to have to grapple with, but a point nonetheless. It's a far cry from 'torture porn.'

Watch the film.

No, I think I made it perfectly clear I won't be doing that.
I didn't say this film was torture porn, I said that was another genre which I have trouble understanding the appeal of.

Chriddof

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Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2019, 01:08:06 PM »
I agree with you, icehaven. Recently on here I talked a bit about this, though I wondered if it was more to do with my general state of mind than the films themselves. With me it's probably a bit of that, but there has been a surplus of this kind of thing. It's starting to remind me of that bit in The Day Today when Chris Morris announces that what Jacques-Jacques Liverot is about to say will "make us all feel really ashamed". I also feel that showing violence to attack violence doesn't really work anymore, given how reprehensibly desensitised so many people are now.

Re: Holiday (2018) - Hugely Unpleasant Arthouse Crime Drama
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2019, 12:12:49 PM »
I agree with you, icehaven. Recently on here I talked a bit about this, though I wondered if it was more to do with my general state of mind than the films themselves. With me it's probably a bit of that, but there has been a surplus of this kind of thing. It's starting to remind me of that bit in The Day Today when Chris Morris announces that what Jacques-Jacques Liverot is about to say will "make us all feel really ashamed". I also feel that showing violence to attack violence doesn't really work anymore, given how reprehensibly desensitised so many people are now.

Indeed... I've found that I can only really shake my students from complacency with weirdness (Švankmajer; early Borowczyk; Paul McCarthy etc.) or films that are genuinely morally ambiguous or refuse to outright condemn troubling/troublesome characters (Deep End; Celia; Heavenly Creatures etc.) rather that outright violence. A lot of them have already watched real drug cartel torture videos and all sorts of fucking horrible documentaries like Just Melvin Just Evil and the like.