SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2015
By Don Simpson | January 29, 2015
Director: Anne Sewitsky
Writers: Anne Sewitsky, Ragnhild Tronvoll
Starring: Ine Marie Wilmann, Simon J. Berger, Silje Storstein, Anneke von der Lippe, Oddgeir Thune
When we first meet the 27-year old Charlotte (Ine Marie Wilmann), she is in the midst of a therapy session. While the session does not reveal much backstory, the scene does inform us about Charlotte’s uncanny ability to avoid talking about her family. Other than expressing her frustration with her parents, as well as her therapist, Charlotte refuses to go into any details regarding the underlying issues. What we do learn is that Charlotte never felt like she had the love and security of a family unit; it also seems as though Charlotte never really confides in her best friend, Marte (Silje Storstein), either. No one seems to really know Charlotte; as her secrets get darker and more discomforting, it seems to be better that way.
Charlotte has inherited her knack for secrecy from her mother, Anna (Anneke Von Der Lippe). Other than knowing that she has a brother who she has never met, Charlotte knows nothing of her mother’s previous marriage; but then her estranged half-brother, Henrik (Simon J. Berger), unexpectedly moves to Oslo with his wife and kid. With Henrik’s sudden appearance in her life, Charlotte finally sees an opportunity to form a connection with a blood relative.
Charlotte and Henrik’s connection grows far beyond platonic. Sure, Henrik is married and Charlotte is dating her best friend’s brother (Oddgeir Thune), but that does not stop them from “playing doctor” and so much more. Their sultry relationship is obviously destined for failure, but Charlotte and Henrik are much too engrossed in each other to care much about the risks. It is as if the two half-siblings are making up for lost time by overcompensating in their desire to establish an intense familiar connection; but other than ravaging each other like animals in heat, Charlotte and Henrik never really seem to connect on any other level. Their actions almost seem to be a rebellion against their mother for being too self-centered to love them. They end up discovering love in a very socially taboo place.
Like Charlotte, director Anne Sewitsky keeps us at arm’s length from Homesick‘s protagonists. The cold, distanced nature of the narrative provides it with an entrancing allure. Other than a few steamy sex scenes, the emotions are understated to mysteriously unrecognizable proportions. It is an intriguing approach to a taboo subject such as incest. Sewitsky has absolutely no interest in melodrama or expository dialogue, so she opts for an aloof nonchalance that seems to play off of the Scandinavian stereotype of quiet frigidity (it seems only appropriate that the story unfolds during the frosty Norwegian winter).