🇩🇰 LOVING ADULTS 🇩🇰
Loving Adults aka Kærlighed for voksne (2022) is a Danish, Netflix Original crime/drama/thriller feature film released on 26 August 2022. 1hr 44 min in Danish with English subtitles (dubbing also available). Age rating 15 U.K.
Follows a couple who appear to be living the perfect life after their son is declared healthy following a long-term illness.
Dar Salim as Christian
Sonja Richter as Leonora
Sus Wilkins as Xenia
Karoline Hamm as Young Leonora
Lars Ranthe as Kim
Mikael Birkkjær as Police Commissioner
Natali Vallespir as Sonja
Milo Campanale as Johan
Morten Burian as Peter
Writers: Anders Rønnow Klarlund, Jacob Weinreich
Director: Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg
Kristian Eidnes Andersen, Rasmus Christiansen
Cinematographer: Philippe Kress
Editor: Lars Wissing
This film is based on a novel by Anna Ekberg which is the pseudonym of Anders Rønnow Klarlund and Jacob Weinreich.
Årslev, Fyn, Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Vilby, Fyn, Denmark
⚠️ This review contains spoilers for Loving Adults ⚠️
I am a fan of Dar Salim. Loving Adults makes for a round dozen films and TV shows that I have watched him in, everything from A War and Darkland, Borgen, Game of Thrones, Warrior and lots in between. I also really like the actor Lars Ranthe, having watched him in lots of productions, including the Oscar-winning Another Round. I was, therefore, really looking forward to seeing this new, Danish feature film on Netflix (I have been following its progress for ages!) I’ve learned over the years to temper my expectations for films and series, so I did just that before settling down to watch. What did I make of this new movie?
I think I had best start with those aspects of Loving Adults that I liked. Does that sound rather ominous? It should… Here goes nothing…
I did love the way that the flashbacks were filmed in this. The visuals made it instantly very easy to understand that they were of a different time many years before and I found them evocative and atmospheric. The direction was competent and I thought the editing to create a cohesive storyline was good.
Most of the performances, given the material, were pretty decent but I could have done with far fewer “giving the evils” (as my kids used to say) and a bit more variation in tone. Dar Salim never disappoints and he didn’t here but I have watched him show far greater range in far better roles. I loved the energy that Lars Ranthe’s energy conveys on screen and he was excellent for a relatively short amount of screen time.
The locations themselves were appealing and there was at least one house I would not mind living in. I thought the costuming and the overall design were good, especially for flashbacks and general modern “cool aesthetic”.
So… and this is the sting in a rather long tail, why was I so disappointed with Loving Adults. Where to begin? Let me leave the fundamental storytelling until last (definitely not least though).
The music, ah, the incidental or rather incessant music. Part way through this film I was inwardly screaming to myself “Please make it stop!” Yes, music can enhance the atmosphere, but it shouldn’t be there to try and create it. The use of music reminded me of when I was a child (many, many years ago) when you couldn’t escape the clutches of incidental music in films or TV shows. There’s nothing wrong with ambient noise or even… silence.
I think this film was meant to be erotic in parts; I’m not totally sure why but at no point did I find it even the least bit sensual. Added to this was a lack of chemistry (perhaps that was the main reason actually).
The majority of side characters were 2-dimensional cutouts and I knew not much more about the detective by the end than I did at the start.
What was the role of the detective telling this tale? Moreover, telling it to his daughter on her wedding day? Let me say at this juncture that when it was revealed that this (weird at the best of times) conversation was taking place literally just before her marriage ceremony I fell into mild hysteria and started giggling. I also thought to myself “I hope to God he isn’t going to make a speech at the wedding!” This scene took the (wedding) cake for me…
Back to what role did this poorly developed narrator of sorts actually play in this film? At best he seems completely superfluous and at worst it leads to an unnecessary reiteration of things we had just seen on screen and possibly even worse, a lack of respect for the intelligence of the audience.
“Show not tell” is all-important in film and TV (they are visual mediums after all) but unfortunately the screenwriters of Loving Adults seem to have repeatedly forgotten this adage. A classic example of this is the flashback where nutty, murder-y wife pushed her previous “love of her life” off a cliff. We see this happen. But what do we get? We also get a voice-over and a verbal reiteration of exactly what we have just witnessed. Why? What purpose does this dialogue serve? This is a film, not a book!
Then we have the way the police (including Mr. “I-want-to-ruin-my-daughter’s-wedding-day”) are portrayed as being well… incompetent, implausibly useless, not to be entrusted with cadaver dogs if they are then just going to leave a big bonfire (bonefire as it used to be spelt) burning by 2 suspects in a suspected unsolved murder case without a corpse in sight? Let’s leave them to it to collect bones rather than inspecting the area… seriously?
And that bonfire (the matches!) and cadaver dogs barking on the nearby bank scene added to my giggles with the addition of so many eye rolls I thought I might need a trip to Specsavers afterwards. The plot twists are there and I suppose the storyline could be called audacious or, perhaps, daft and unbelievable.
I can appreciate that this is, I think, a story about how a man can be dragged into doing things he wouldn’t normally consider doing. The problem I had with the main character (and believe me, I LOVE a flawed bad guy or a good guy who does bad things) was that he is already a bit scummy, isn’t he? He’s corrupt and unfaithful when we see him, so his “fall from grace” isn’t what it so easily could have been. Or are we supposed to see that he isn’t the good guy he outwardly appears to be and therefore the slippery slope is one he’ll willingly throw himself down? If that’s the case, that undermines the weird point the detective is (I think) making. Leastways, the main character is not the easiest person to follow around with any real empathy.
This story is also packed full of stereotypes which I found quite disturbing. The lusty wench leads the guy astray. The nutty murder-y wife who has already topped someone, who was just waiting for their ill son to recover and her husband to ask for a divorce to go full-on psychopathic crazy again because… of money? Or was it jealousy? And then she leads him further astray.
I have stuck my head well above the parapet with this review. I know that a lot of people really enjoyed Loving Adults and that it has done well on Netflix viewings but, and it genuinely saddens me to say this — I know how much time and effort go into making a film like this — it was a total failure for me, even counting the giggling as an unintended positive.
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