🇳🇴 BATTLE 🇳🇴
BATTLE aka Batalhas (2018) is a Norwegian romance/drama/music/dance feature film on Netflix. 1 hr 38 min. 15 Cert U.K. Norwegian and some English with English subtitles also available dubbed.
“Amalie works hard to fit into a world where having it all is what matters – looks, money and dancing skills. But, when her father goes bankrupt, life as she knows it falls apart. At school, Amalie tries to pretend like nothing has happened. Then she meets Michael, the street-dancer, who is different from any other person she has met. Torn between her new life with Michael and the constant jealousy of her old friends, Amalie finds herself stuck in a continuous web of lies. How long can she keep the two worlds apart, and will she dare to be true to herself in the end?” Michael Bull-Gundersen
Lisa Teige as Amalie
Fabian Svegaard Tapia as Mikael
Vebjørn Enger as Aksel
Stig R. Amdan as Bjørn
Silje Marie Balterzersen as Ida
Charlotte Utzig as Charlotte
Sofia Albertine Foss as Vanessa
Georgia May Anta as Alex
Sign Åsa Sætereng as Kim
Morad Aziman as Josef
Bao Andre Nguyen as Moa
Lucas Lute as The Loot
Karen-Lise Mynster as Birgitta
Director: Katarina Launing
Writers: Karsten Fullu and Maja Lunde
Music: Magnus Beite
Cinematographer: Jørgen Johansson
Editor: Vidar Flatauken
Costume: Fieke Nicolai
This film is based upon the book of the same name by Maja Lunde who is also one of the screenwriters for the film.
Filming locations were Oslo, Amsterdam and Fyn in Denmark.
Fabian Svegaard Tapia was trained as an actor and dancer at Nordic Black Theatre (NBX) and has appeared in several productions on stage and screen including at the National Theatre.
Battle: Freestyle is due out on Netflix this year and will continue to tell the story of Amalie and Mikael and is set in the beautiful city of Paris.
Firstly I should admit that I am a very long way from the demographic at which Battle is aimed which is teens/young adults. However, I have never let that put me off watching anything and I am happy to judge a film or series on its own merits and not wearing an “old fogey” hat or mindset. I am not a dancer but I love to dance and really enjoy watching skilled dancers.
Whilst Battle does not have any big surprises I did like that the normal trope of the “bad girl” in a group was subverted here. Our protagonist, Amalie, is not very endearing for a lot of the time, but who can have any real character development without there being some kind of internal (and/or external) conflict?
Amalie starts as a spoiled, privileged girl who is demanding of her father (she has no mother present) and takes everything for granted. Her friends are of exactly the same social class as herself. She has absolutely no idea about how the “other half” live until circumstances change radically and she is forced into grasping what life is like for her now and (shock horror) has to take public transport.
For Amalie, it is a complete culture (and sub-culture) shock. This is a world and people she has never encountered before. It is a catalyst for change. She lies and hides the truth and reality from others and herself and as a result nearly loses what is, in truth, something very special.
One of the main themes of Battle is indeed that of being honest with others and, just as importantly, yourself. That you have make an effort to understand things from another’s point of view, to accept reality and take responsibility for one’s own actions. This is shown in Battle not only through Amalie’s story but also her father’s. She (and he) also eventually learn that they have to put away the past and be proactive in moving on.
The key to Amalie arriving at the end of this film as an evolved person is Mikael and the rest of the dance crew. Through his enthusiasm and love of street dance (and at this point, I have to say enormous talent) she realises what dance is about, that it is intrinsically linked to emotion and feelings and that it is not simply a case of getting a routine “right”.
I loved the scenes which took place in the dance “studios” (especially Mikael’s) and at the dance battles. Whilst not everyone may like hip-hop there is no denying that the skills exhibited are fantastic, even from the very young.
I should mention at this point something about the actual dancing. I found the evolution of Amalie’s dancing interesting (and I enjoyed the duets) but for me, it was the dancing by Fabian Svegaard Tapia as Mikael and the other street dancers that had me gasping and saying “Incredible!” These dancers are so gymnastic, powerful, intricate and expressive that I found myself mesmerised. As I said previously while hip-hop may not be your “thing” this dancing is mightily impressive.
Of course, this is a romantic drama as well as being about the power of dance, so yes… there is romance, and we all know, the course of true love never runs smoothly. It is here that Amalie learns the most important lesson, to learn from mistakes, make an honest apology and accept responsibility and then move onwards.
This is not a movie with a massive budget and that is reflected in the lack of swish overhead shots etc. but I liked the realistic way things were filmed, the lighting and the editing, especially of the dance scenes. The soundtrack is very effective!
The actors in Battle are generally very good and credible as characters. The two leads have onscreen chemistry which is essential with a romance involved. Fabian Svegaard Tapia has a presence and an enthusiasm that lights up the screen. The adult characters and cast provide steadiness to the story. I loved that it has a truly diverse cast.
If you enjoy watching dance, can walk in the (dancing) shoes of teenagers and members of a sub-culture and not expect anything wildly innovative from what is a romantic drama after all then Battle is an immensely likeable, honest film. I will be watching the sequel when it arrives.