Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Victoria Carmen Stone in Holiday
"Sonne, seemingly named for her role, moves through it with languorous ease." | Photo: Jonas Lodahl

The white sand sparkles in the hot sun beside the clear blue waters of the Turkish Riviera. Young, blonde, clad in light summer garb and an oversized hat, Sascha (Victoria Carmen Sonne) looks as though she was made for this place. She drifts around the hotel pool on an inflatable crocodile, leans out laughing in the bow of a yacht or giggles over cocktails. One day, buying strawberry ice cream, she catches the eye of a young Dutchman, Thomas (Thijs Römer). But Sascha is already attached - to fortysomething mobster Michael (Lai Yde) - a man whom she has already learned will respond to disloyalty with violence.

Is this, then, the tale of an abused young woman falling in love and trying to break free? Not quite. Sascha is a different kind of animal. From the start, her apparently carefree way of lolling around with her clothes half fallen off, drinking and using drugs and teasing Michael reveal her as a creature of instinct, going whichever way the wind takes her but nonetheless aware of what she can and can't handle. Her natural playfulness makes everybody like her and it's clear that she brings light into Michael's dark, too-serious world. Like every smart sugar baby she keeps her flirting light, not too suggestive that she might have desires of her own - she lets people see what they want to see. The only way to survive seeming so malleable is to have a core of steel.

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Sascha's ongoing flirtation with Thomas takes them to places that almost seem romantic in that typical holiday way - something all the more brilliant because it is destined to be brief, at least unless the usual rules of life should give way. But both Thomas and Sascha are tourists in more ways than one. Michael, for his part, has reached a stage in his life where little surprises him. Though in one scene he is sexually aggressive towards Sascha and treats her with little regard, there is the sense of a deep understanding between them. On one level, she may be a toy - on another, she is a rich man's pet, a little tiger cub just learning to use her claws. Michael seems alert to this before she is.

Nadim Carlsen's picture postcard cinematography presents us with a lazy, endlessly summery world. Sonne, seemingly named for her role, moves through it with languorous ease. Her physical acting is superb, especially in a scene where her character is unconscious and has to be completely flexible. Because Sascha is also a performer, it becomes apparent early on that we can't trust what we see on her face, no matter how guileless it may look; it is through her body that Sonne tells us who she is, whilst director Isabella Eklöf's camera follows her as if it belonged to another tourist passing through, catching glimpses of other people's lives. This is a dream world open only to the rich - even Thomas owns a yacht - and to most of those who glimpse it, it will remain distant. To stay there - to become one of its creatures - one has to break all the usual rules.

Reviewed on: 21 Oct 2018
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The sugar baby of a mob boss flirts with a stranger on the Turkish Riviera.
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Director: Isabella Eklöf

Writer: Isabella Eklöf, Johanne Algren

Starring: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer

Year: 2018

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden

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