When disabled woman Victoria (Eva Johansson) expresses an interest in having a boyfriend to her carer Ida (Madeleine Martin), their relationship becomes challenged. This is because Victoria’s prospective Tinder date Hakan (Olsson) gives Ida cause for concern, not only about his suitability, but whether she has overstepped her boundaries by setting up a Tinder profile for Victoria.
Intended to screen at the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival, Alive effectively tackles complicated issues concerning disability and dating through the relationship between Victoria and Ida. Olsson, who also wrote the film’s script, provides a balanced look at the perspectives of both sides, with Ida’s misgivings about the rough appearance of Hakan as well as her over-protectiveness of Victoria placed alongside Victoria’s feelings of isolation and wishes to fulfil her sexual desires.
Both of these arguments are shown effectively in two scenes. The first cuts between Ida having sex with her boyfriend and Victoria being put to bed alone, while the second involves a conversation between Ida and her boyfriend where she expresses her concerns about Victoria dating. It is to Olsson’s credit that neither viewpoint is given precedence over the other or demonised, with this non-biased approach resulting in a nuanced and realistic depiction of the issues surrounding disability and sex.
The two main actresses further help to realise the respective differences between their characters through their performances. Johansson effectively portrays Victoria’s frustration at not having her sexual desires fulfilled, as well as her anger with Ida for not respecting her wishes, whilst Martin skilfully balances Ida’s willingness to help Victoria enter into a relationship with her concerns for her client’s welfare and discomfort with some of Victoria’s blunt questions about sex.
Overall, Alive serves as a positive representation of an issue concerning many disabled people, which also acknowledges concerns about their welfare. Olsson’s adept handling of this issue marks him out as a talented director and storyteller who has great potential for the future.