'Loving Adults' review: Unpredictable and intense

Intelligently executed, Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg and the writers present to you the opposite of what a standard love-crime thriller would be.

Published: 30th August 2022 08:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2022 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

A still from ‘Loving Adults’

Express News Service

Based on Anna Ekberg’s novel, Till Death Do Us Part, Loving Adults sets its foundation in familiar environs infidelity, marital breakdown, crimes of passion, etc.,—but the treatment is the winner here. Despite very believable acting from the principal cast, you feel you’re in the midst of a cliché (half an hour in), but just as you get comfortable, the film throws you an unexpected curveball.

Intelligently executed, Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg and the writers present to you the opposite of what a standard love-crime thriller would be. It pushes an interesting narrative where the revenge (on the part of the betrayed spouse) is to do everything in one’s power to keep the cheating party from leaving. Add obsession, blackmail, emotional burdens of parenthood, violence, and a sketchy relationship history from decades ago, and you have yourself something uncomfortable and powerful to contend with. The story is narrated in snatches by a cop who chooses to break it down to his soon-to-be-married daughter on her wedding day, no less…another atypical storytelling choice, but one that builds intrigue. 

The performances are excellent but it is Sonja Richter’s role as the betrayed spouse that makes this Danish film what it is. Her character Leonara has a menace that simmers gently beneath the surface. How much she’s sacrificed for her husband Christian (Dar Salim) over the years, for instance, is a talking point in a pivotal scene where he finally musters up the courage to tell her he wants out. Her demeanour changes quickly, unleashing an inner fury.

She gave up a promising career as a violinist two decades ago when their son fell sick. And when Christian reminds her they had an arrangement back then, she erupts. She says she wishes for compensation and is unwilling to give up the house and her life for his whims. Seeing no way out, she brings up an incident from the past involving Christian and their son’s surgeries in the US. If the police are to get wind of it, he will face extended jail time. 

Then there’s the much younger Xenia (Sus Wilkins), Christian’s mistress, a top architect in his firm, who has great expectations of her own. In an unholy mess and his back against the wall, Christian must make a move—either one comes with consequences!

Running is used as a motif through the narrative. You can see the film’s wheels turning as Leonara puts on her red-hooded windcheater and sets out on her runs. Her obsessive need to do long distances gives birth to Christian’s first impulsive plan. They are both on edge once the affair has been established, but the difference is he is impulsive and she is calculating. A trip to meet Leonara’s best friend throws up rumours from her past. Her friend says something to Christian that hits home. “Leonara is the type who’s either all in or all out.” It sums up what he’s up against. 

Loving Adults is a refreshing take on its infidelity-thriller genre. Intense and unpredictable as the fractured relationships it portrays, it has the ability to surprise you more than once. Intelligent writing and direction coupled with all-round acting display make this engaging. It has its minor flaws, but on the whole, Loving Adults isn’t a film you should be passing on!

Loving Adults
Cast: Dar Salim, Sonja Richter, Sus Wilkins, Mikael Birkkjær 
Creators:  Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg 
Streaming on: Netflix
Rating:  3/5


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