This Holiday isn’t much fun

D- Not really quite a thriller
Written by Johanne Algren and Isabella Eklöf
Directed by Isabella Eklöf

The setup feels like a thriller: A beautiful, spoiled, not-too-bright blonde belongs to a gang of drug dealers, and they’re all vacationing on the Turkish Riviera. Will a deal go down badly? Will a rival gang attack? Will she be blackmailed into helping the police?

No. Pretty much nothing happens. For the most part, Holiday lets you spend 90 minutes watching a bunch of truly horrible human beings having fun. They party, drink, swim, laugh, take recreational drugs, and make love. Occasionally they threaten people or worse. Some of them have children, who are learning to behave like their parents.

Filmmaker Isabella Eklöf wants us to understand how these sorts of artificial families use violence to keep control. If someone messes up, he’s beaten. The women do what the men tell them to. No one dares to complain. The hierarchy must not be questioned.

But Holiday doesn’t go anywhere. There’s very little suspense. Or character development. Aside from the one man who’s murdered, everyone is the same at the end as they were at the beginning.

So let’s go back to that blonde. The first thing we learn about Sascha (Victoria Carmen Sonne) is that she doesn’t spend responsibly. The next thing we learn is that her boyfriend, Michael (Lai Yde) violently slaps her when he’s angry. And she just accepts it.

Michael is top dog in this artificial family. He can say anything and do anything, and no one will stop him. He can beat one of his “friends,” or have others beat him, and the friend will do anything to get back into Michael’s good graces.

Sascha passively accepts both the gifts and the violence meaded on her. She may occasionally do something daring, like flirt with a guy she met in an ice cream parlor – far more dangerous for the guy than for her – but she always comes back.

About halfway through the film, Michael casually rapes Sascha. Eklöf shoots this disturbing scene in an unmoving long shot, separating the action from the emotions. The rape is so explicit it took me out of the movie; I found myself thinking more about what the actors were going through as opposed to the characters. I hope they used a fake penis.

At least the rape gave me the hope that something was going to happen. Maybe she’d get smart and leave the brute. Or perhaps the movie would become a revenge thriller with her killing Michael and her alleged friends. But no, nothing like that happened.

Holiday appears to be a study of a woman who is objectified to the nth degree and seems to accept her fate. Not only accept it, but actually enjoy it. Part of the problem is that Sonne isn’t a good enough actress to give the character some complexity.

Don’t confuse this Holiday with the 1938 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. That one is worth seeing.

Holiday opens Friday at the Roxie.