“Is it nice?” says a carer to her disabled client, Victoria, as she’s lowered into a public pool assisted by a machine – from this image alone, it’s cleat that the simplest tasks require assistance, and therefore remove any feeling of independence for Victoria. It’s the same for essentially every other task that able-bodied people take for granted every single day. But what happens when it’s the most intimate of needs that the disabled person requires? Sex is already a taboo topic in society as it stands. Jimmy Olsson’s Alive confronts this taboo and portrays it in beautifully honest way.
From this opening, we get a brief glimpse into the life of Victoria as her carer, Ida, looks after her every need. Out on a walk in the park, they come across Ida’s handsome young boyfriend, who Victoria later expresses an attraction to. What starts off as a fun teenage-like conversation about boys, turns into despair for Victoria, who proclaims that she will never find love because of her condition. Determined to cheer her up, Ida sets up a tinder account for her client. Much to Ida’s surprise, Victoria has a date organised after one day. The man wants to come over, an idea Ida is suspicious, worried Victoria will be taken advantage of, let alone it running the risk of compromising her duty of care.
The film brilliantly moves between perspective; at first with Victoria, providing some insight into her world and the difficulty with which she does banal tasks, then with Ida, who almost acts as the eyes of the able-bodied audience, worried about Victoria’s vulnerability when letting in an unknown man come over to her flat. The simple yet precise cinematography reflects the static nature of Victoria’s existence, giving an insight in her mind, a number of vivid shots in which she faces the camera, and the action takes place behind her while she’s unable to turn to see, communicates her inner frustration. More so than anything the performances pull us deeper into the experience of the characters in an intensely visceral way, in particular, that of Eva Johansson playing Victoria, who communicates so much about her character through facial expressions alone. Jimmy Olsson’s short film is an important and uplifting story, which needs to be seen.