Mani Maserrat’s daring second feature, “Vi” [Eng. Title: Us] takes an intimate look at the disintegration of a passionate but tragic relationship. The violence and destruction is not as much physical as it is psychological.
Krister and newly arrived Ida teach at the same school. They meet, fall in love, and decide to move in together. Ida has had little time to get to know Krister – his outlook and charm, brimming with confidence, was enough to win her heart. What starts off as a romantic dream when they start living together will become a nightmare, after Kirster turns out to be a domineering control-freak. The tragedy and what the film’s about, is the time it takes Ida to realise it herself – blinded by love, and dreams of raising a family. Even when Linda – her colleague, confidant, and voice of the audience, sees their relationship for what it is and warns her, Ida fails to see anything wrong with Kirster. She doesn’t notice that he treats her like a child when he’s not making love, finds fault in everything she does, and forces her to apologise for simply being herself.
The film makes psychological observations on the nature of confidence and self-esteem through an honest attempt at articulating the fact that they are never constant – that they waver and shift depending on circumstances, underscored during various stages of Ida and Kirster’s doomed love affair. They should never have met, for any kind of relationship between them – platonic or otherwise, would have only been controlling. As events unfold, they end up playing out a sado-masochistic game without being aware, or even remotely wanting to. The audience too will watch in pain Ida’s deterioration into something close to a mental wreck – unable to differentiate between reality and the imagined.
The end is fitting, but the only flaw with the film is in the characterisation, in the way it forces us into building a contempt for Kirster from the very beginning, eventually given vent on our behalf by Linda, after she confronts him during one of the more emotionally charged passages of play. Yet I’d have preferred to have seen Kirster, not as a monstrous caricature, but a more ‘normal’ person, allowing the audience to engage – after all, you don’t require a disturbed individual for ruining a relationship. All the three main actors give a fine performance – which shouldn’t be surprising, considering that this is made in Sweden. Gustaf Skarsgård lives up to his more famous father’s reputation, while Anna Åström makes a promising début in the role of a protagonist. What is surprising however, is the frank depiction of sex scenes that’d probably be more at home in Dutch rather than Swedish cinema. They’re quite realistic, and the cinematography is also appealing. The film will repel audiences at some point due to individual reasons, but if you stick with it, it’ll allow you to reflect on certain things we often take for granted when it comes to human behaviour. Highly Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Anna Åström and Gustaf Skarsgård
The film features several long scenes in which either or both of the protagonists are shown in the nude. There is also a sex scene of a fairly explicit nature, but it is there for a reason that’ll become obvious towards the end.