Review: Are We Lost Forever – Iris Prize Film Festival ★★★★

Swedish gay themed drama Are We Lost Forever began as the short No More We (which UK audiences may remember from Boys On Film 19: No Ordinary Boy). The feature from writer-director David Färdmar follows the tumultuous break-up of Adrian (Björn Elgerd) and Hampus (Jonathan Andersson), chronicling the spectrum of emotions, challenges, turmoil, and rebirth experienced from the death of a relationship.

Färdmar’s feature opens showcasing the devastating concept of ‘there’s no more we’ as long engaged couple Adrian and Hampus sit in shock after Hampus announces that he wants to split. With a quiet discomfort, Are We Lost Forever goes on to capture the diverging paths of both men. Each struggles to move on, despite knowing their destructive relationship is unlikely to be the answer, resulting in reunion and rebounds – seeing them drawn back together and thrust apart again. With each man healing at a different pace, Are We Lost Forever captures the challenging, emotive journey of the long-term break-up in a heartfelt, engaging, and authentically naturalistic fashion.

Intelligently written, Are We Lost Forever, captures the idea that although Adrian is the first to dip into escape through casual rebound sex and even begins appearing outside Hampus’s work – he appears to be the one that emotionally left the relationship prior to the official break-up (something later developed with the news Adrien cheated). Capturing the attempt to move on, Adrien’s path is more haphazard and heavy-handed – extremes of highs and lows; Hampus has much more of a steady, self-reflective path – despite a crushing moment of weakness which results in a bout of heated, highly-charged reunion sex.

Despite Hampus and Adrian being drawn together throughout, we as viewers get a sense of the damaging, destructive nature of their relationship through their extreme highs and lows. Färdmar’s sensual direction explores the joys and positivity that the relationship did once contain in scenes intercut with romantic holiday videos of the paid, adding to the authentic tone of the film. Färdmar does an impressive job at capturing that emotional limbo of wanting to see each other – despite both knowing it is not a good idea. It captures that messy emotional minefield of break-ups with a striking, impressive, and emotive realism.

As Adrian and Hampus further diverge (the finality of a change in Facebook status triggers a sharp jolt), we see both men move on with fresh partners. The emotional pain of Adrian, as Hampus moves on damages the friendly-tone (with an underlying hint of romance) which the pair develop in the latter half of the film. This sends Adrian into a dark spiral where jealousy and hurt rear their heads, showcasing the uncomfortable and awkward middle-ground of navigating a relationship with an ex as they move on.

Färdmar’s direction is naturalistic and convincing, gently observing the emotional dramatics which Adrian and Hampus experience. Björn Elgerd and Jonathan Andersson shine as the two former lovers, capturing the awkward theatrics and routines experienced throughout a break-up and the volatile emotional ground they must navigate. The film takes a massively sensual approach to the depiction of queer sexuality, with Färdmar directing the sex scenes with a realistic erotic energy.

The latter act of the film, featuring a dinner party with both men, feels somewhat unnecessary and takes us slightly out of the realistic world which Färdmar has previously crafted. The concept that two exes and new partners would sit down for a friendly dinner feels slightly too awkward to be convincing, yet this does no damage to the impressive emotional tone which Are We Lost Forever previously masters.

Are We Lost Forever captures the emotional battlefield of break-ups with a stunning authenticity. Actors Elgerd and Andersson explore the extremities of emotion with a natural conviction, whilst Färdmar directs with a naturalistic, sensual eye.

Are We Lost Forever plays as part of the Iris Prize festival. It will be released on DVD from Peccadillo Pictures on the 16th of November.

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