A love triangle story with a provocative twist, uneven Swedish drama “To Love Someone” fumbles a strong concept with trite construction. Pic somewhat redeems itself with committed perfs, especially from relative newcomer Sofia Ledarp as a battered woman who can’t stay away from her abuser. However, screenplay by prolific Danish scribe Kim Fupz Aakeson (“A Soap”) is less interested in emotional nuance than suspenser mechanics. Helming by veteran Ake Sandgren doesn’t rise far above the level of good TV drama, so “Someone” may struggle to find anyone beyond Scandi distribs and fests who will love it enough to buy it.
Alarm bells start ringing during pic’s opening scene, which features that hackneyed plot device — a character revealing through dialogue and a voiceover monologue that they’re mourning someone who’s just died, thus setting flashback-driven story in motion.
The bereaved in this case is sad-sack fishmonger Alf (seasoned thesp Rolf Lassgard, “After the Wedding”), who remembers the last few months he spent with his much younger g.f. Lena (Sofia Ledarp). (Incidentally, much of the pic unfolds from Lena’s and other characters’ point of view, making Alf’s introductory v.o. merely vestigial.)
Some time ago, Lena used to go out with Hannes (moody-featured Jonas Karlsson), who regularly beat her to a pulp until she finally mustered the courage to have him arrested.
Hannes is released from prison (where he had extensive group therapy). He can’t stop himself from sending Lena a contrite letter apologizing for what he did. Likewise, she can’t resist visiting him to test whether he’s really changed, and before long the two are carrying on behind Alf’s cuckolded back, ultimately leading to an unhappy ending.
Pic’s willingness to hint at an uncomfortable truth — that some women become “addicted” to toxic relationships, a theme also explored in 1997 indie drama “Loved” — is admirable, and reps a fairly typical swerve on the part of screenwriter Fupz Aakeson into murky psychological territory. (See also his scripts for Danish pics “Accused” and “Aftermath”.)
It’s even suggested that vaguely controlling Alf fits a pattern of poor choices Lena has made. Unfortunately, these interpersonal dynamics are only cursorily explored, and become merely the engine for plot’s tragic thrill ride.
Core trio of thesps work hard to imbue proceedings with extra light and shade, but are poorly served by Sandgren’s flat, literal direction. The heavy-handed score doesn’t help; nor does the bland, generic title.