KVIFF 2024: Lilja Ingolfsdottir’s ‘Loveable’ is a Fresh Look at Love

by Alex Billington
July 3, 2024

Loveable Review

There are an endless number of movies about relationships, marriage, divorce, intimacy, sex, attraction, and compatibility. It is therefore a considerable challenge to create a brand new film that is unique in the way it examines modern relationships and the people involved in them. Loveable (originally Elskling) is one such unique film from Norway written and directed by filmmaker Lilja Ingolfsdottir. It premiered at the 2024 Karloff Vary Film Festival in their main Crystal Globe Competition section, and I am glad I took the time to watch it at the festival. Loveable is the story of a couple named Maria and Sigmund, who are now feeling overwhelmed by a life with four kids in total and work and everything stressful that comes with parenthood. While the intro describes it as a divorce film, it’s not really a divorce film (in the way that Marriage Story is). Loveable is an engaging film that follows Maria as she re-examines her life and her relationship when confronted with the frightening threat of divorce. It’s a chance for her to discover who she really is and what she must contend with to step forward happily into the future without falling face-first into full-on misery.

Written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Lilja Ingolfsdottir as her first feature film, Loveable stars the talented actress Helga Guren as Maria. Her husband Sigmund is played by Oddgeir Thune, a strikingly handsome actor recognizable from a few other Norwegian films & TV. At the beginning of the film, there’s a montage sequence where Maria reminisces about when she first met him and how she convinced him to fall for her and how it all worked out. And then it was perfect – for a while. But time flies by, and suddenly it’s not perfect. Maria already has two kids of her own from another relationship, and after marrying Sigmund, they end up with two more. Loveable doesn’t spend any time on location or context – it is obviously set in Norway and deals with the experiences of Norwegian people, but it doesn’t dwell on the cities it takes place in or anything else. As their relationship starts to break down, the film does shift into the divorce narrative. Maria has to deal with that possible future and it sends her into a spiral. Ultimately the film becomes an intriguing tale of self-love, as it profiles a person who seriously needs to talk to a therapist yet refuses to do so. It wonders: what is necessary for someone to heal themselves and rediscover what makes them lovable?

Loveable is a competently well-made drama from Norway featuring some lovely cinematography, one very strong lead performance, an emotional soundtrack, and writing that is fresh and authentic. It doesn’t follow the usual paths many relationship films often do, either with the couple understanding they were never right for each other, or giving them some cliche realization that they’re ideal they just need to have a cheesy scene or two to reconnect. Instead, it’s mainly a film about how all of us really, really need therapy and how often we deny that truth. Maria is lucky to stumble into a therapy situation where she is given a chance to learn and grow and find strength again. She’s also lucky to have good people around that allow her to go through this turbulent time in her life. I very much appreciate a good film that doesn’t cut corners or become overly melodramatic in its handling of a complex situation wherein, yes actually, we do need to work on ourselves in order to patch things up with our loved ones in our lives. We can’t always blame everyone else. It is not about whether it’s a man or a woman going through all this, it’s important for everyone to learn nonetheless.

While there are moments where it’s clear both of the lead performers are “acting” out scenes, there are other moments where I genuinely believe in their feelings. In some scenes it feels like they’re digging deep into their own authentic experiences to make the moment feel more real. There’s a few scenes near the end with Maria that are simply extraordinary to watch as she – in a beautifully accurate depiction – works through an overwhelming collection of emotions while attempting to express feelings to her significant other. It’s one of the best scenes in the entire film and brings the whole narrative together. It’s moments like these that really make cinema meaningful and impactful, and I hope that we can all feel love more deeply through films like this one. Loveable is a ravishing example of cinema’s power to show us all the beauty and pain of humanity.

Alex’s KVIFF 2024 Rating: 8 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter – @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd – @firstshowing

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