VICTIM OF LOVE is resoundingly moody, gritty, and atmospheric. Like so many foreign films, the depth of color of these characters is astounding – far beyond what we often see in films in the States. Like something directed by Bekmambetov or Jeunet, quirky and truly human characters drive this rollercoaster to the highest peak, and at no point are we able to see the bottom of the hill we are about to crest.
Charly (Rudi Køhnke) is on the hunt for his girlfriend who has gone missing. He’s holed up in a hotel in Copenhagen a few months after her disappearance – the same hotel where they were staying when she disappeared. He’s lonely, he’s alone, and he’s using whatever he can to cope. Nightlife in Copenhagen is wild, dripping in sweat and bright neon, and on one of his many nights out alone on the town, Charly meets Felicija (Siff Andersson) and falls into a dreamy, dazzling daze of love and lust.
Wind-whipping, whistling fear and excitement grip each frame of VICTIM OF LOVE, often separated only by dazed, dreamy sequences of Charly’s mental grip slipping. His obsession, which drives him in the first act, seems to jump from cause to cause and begins to drift from him the longer he spends searching for answers. Obsession and righteousness give way to guilt and fear, and even in his happiest moments, Charly is soon faced with the reflection of his deepest truths. Unique characters play their way through the mystery of Amy’s disappearance, whether they be friends and acquaintances or just random passers-by.
Visually stunning, VICTIM OF LOVE boldly relies on the colors and textures of Copenhagen nightlife, and how they play across the rugged canvases of the actors’ faces, particularly incredible character actors like Rudi Køhnke, Jens Blegaa, and Paw Terndrup – each with enough life in their faces to write a thousand novels about. Siff Andersson as Felicija is equal parts Lisbeth Salander and Harley Quinn, with a little Yolandi Visser thrown in for good measure. Her wild, sexy side bumps up perfectly against her tough, brave side, all while remaining vulnerable, and to an aching degree, kind and loving. Even as Charly slips deeper into substance abuse and self-sabotage, she remains true and provides a stable base for his flighty and irresponsible moments. A whole series of films could be written for this love story, and I would gladly watch.
Parts of the film are in Danish, and parts are in English, as a way to differentiate Charly’s American life from the one he’s experiencing in Denmark. He repeats time and time again that his mother was Danish and his father was American, and that’s why he doesn’t “seem American”, as so many point out to him. Surprisingly, this doesn’t make the film any more difficult to follow and breaks up the almost nightmarish cycle of clubs, regretful mornings, and amorous relations nicely. The pace is solid, quick, and keeps us on our toes. The art direction and design are remarkable both in their depth and grit, and their simplicity. It’s as if nothing is left to the imagination, while at the same time nearly everything is.
VICTIM OF LOVE is a feast for the eyes and the mind, and any discerning viewer will want to rewatch time and time again.
8 out of 10