★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Jesper Isaksen.
A super stylish and exceptionally well-scored film that’s partially in Danish and partially in English and…wait for it…features a character who’s half Danish and half American.
2020’s Victim of Love, directed by short film director Jesper Isaksen, all takes place in the seedy under belly of Copenhagen’s — not so seedy — underbelly. The faux psychedelic ruminations follow the well constructed character Charly (Rudi Køhnke) dead set on finding his “lost” girlfriend. Rudi Køhnke turns in a stellar performance as Charly who wanders from one drug-addled state to the next trough of drinks. He’s determined to also ply this hyper-imbalanced approach to his sleuthing. He knows that something’s amiss in Denmark, but he can’t quite put his heart in to the real truth.
Early on the film we’re introduced to one of Charly’s organs (?) which drops some trippy exposition about the incoming dread, but it never really makes another appearance/monologue. Try as he might Charly just can’t get his head straight. It might be the cocaine or the endless boozy stream of shots, but it could just be the Charly is on the wrong side of the good/evil equation. Charly’s journey gets steamier, darker, and trance-like as he’s introduced to Danish goth-local Felicja (Siff Andersson). The two get down to the business of “knowing each other” in between lines of crank and vodka. Felijca may or may not have the answers to the disappearance of Charly’s girlfriend, but she certainly makes for a nice and unnerving distraction along the way.
Charly’s visions become more vivid, more multi-colored, and the pieces and parts of his girlfriend’s disappearance slowly (read: far too slowly) unfold before his eyes. As Charly begins to reckon with his awful existence and his awful recollection, he’s repeatedly visited by a skull-masked madman — think low-rent Purge. The skull-masked demon lurks in the corners and the periphery of Charly’s unglued mind, but never really discloses to Charly what’s happening and why it’s all going down.
The twists do eventually manifest themselves, but they come about in a sloooow and not-so-riveting way. While Rudi Køhnke’s performance is solid, Charly is an awfully difficult character to get behind. What’s worse is that Felijca is fairly unlikeable as well. Taken together, their intoxicant-fueled detective tale doesn’t give anyone anything to cheer about. Unless you’re a fan of the seedy side of Copenhagen, Victim of Love doesn’t give you much. As an aside, having recently visited Copenhagen and stayed at the hotel whose exteriors are featured in the film, I’m not convinced that Copenhagen really has seedy side.
Victim of Love is an interesting title choice because while there is a victim there’s not a hell of a lot of love kicking around in this bleak affair. The stylish color palette and excessive use of lens flares are well-placed and create a nice foundation for Charly’s befuddled ways, but don’t make up for the awkward pacing and flat structure of the film. In an alternate timeline Victim of Love could be tight and well-concocted 20 minute horror short. Instead we’re left with an hour and a half horror-lite flick that concludes with a deeply uninspired exposition dump.
Victim of Love is likely Rated R and currently streaming at the Another Hole in the Head Festival.