Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Gjesing is exceptional."

People often ask why victims of domestic abuse - especially children - are so quick to blame themselves for what happens to them. From a psychological standpoint, the answer is simple: if one can convince oneself that one is responsible for making something happen, one can believe that one has the power to make it stop.

Ida (Kerstin Jannerup Gjesing) is eight. She's a clean, well presented girl with nice clothes, apparently from a nice home. Nevertheless, her teacher (Henrik Birch) is worried. There's something off about her behaviour. For a child of that age she seems a little too diligent, anxious about making mistakes. Where could this be coming from?

Ida's mother (Molly Blixt Egelind) is full of affection, comforting her child after a nightmare - the monster again - and playing games with her in the kitchen where they bake together. Still, Ida finds it hard to relax. When her mother goes off into another room, we see all her fear rush to the surface. It's a sound that does it: the clink of glass.

Around 920,000 children are believed to be living with one or more alcoholic parents in the UK alone. They often experience serious psychological damage that they carry into adulthood, and many also suffer physical abuse. There's no need for violence to show us the significance of what's happening in Ida's life. Gjesing is exceptional. It's one thing to get a child to express emotion onscreen but much of what gives this film its power lies in what she holds back, which speaks to a different level of talent. It's heartbreaking to watch. Egelind delivers a similarly restrained performance. All monsters are scarier when we see only a little of them. Thomas Foldberg's make-up work is simple, an exaggeration of flushing and burst capillaries, the details a child zooms in on. it's the difference that scares her.

The monster is unpredictable, but Ida tells herself she can learn to control it. She just won't make any mistakes. She imagines herself with wings. A perfect child, an angel. It feels like a presentiment of death.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2019
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An 8-year-old girl tries to cope in the shadow of her mother's alcoholism.

Director: Parminder Singh

Writer: Parminder Singh

Starring: Kerstin Jannerup Gjesing, Molly Blixt Egelind, Henrik Birch

Year: 2019

Runtime: 13 minutes

Country: Denmark


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