Lisa Langseth’s Euphoria, which premiered at TIFF three years ago, quietly yet poignantly explores the estranged relationship between two sisters amidst news that one of them is dying.  Beautifully written and elegantly directed, Euphoria is as emotionally devastating as it is moving.

Euphoria follows Ines (Alicia Vikander) as she returns to Europe to visit her sister, Emilie (Eva Green), who is dying.  Set in a rural resort for the terminally ill, where patrons can live in comfort before being euthanized, Euphoria navigates the volatile and unstable relationship between the two sisters, who are forced to learn to reconcile their differences amidst imminent tragedy.

Much of the film consequently hinges on the two excellent performances by Vikander and Green, who perfectly embody the emotional dichotomy of the two sisters: Ines as restrained, to the point of cold and indifferent;  and Emilie, as volcanic, emotive, and, in the face of certain death, terrified.  The cast is rounded by two terrific supporting performances from Charles Dance, a wealthy patron at the resort who provides unexpected guidance, and Charlotte Rampling as a staff member and personal guide to Emilie, who simultaneously acts as a surrogate mother of sorts to both sisters.

Langseth’s screenplay briskly covers a lot of narrative and thematic territory in a short 97 minutes.  The film establishes complete character arcs and dynamics with an understated ease.  Langseth’s talent as a director emerges in some of the film’s final, anticipatedly tragic moments.  Langseth paradoxically handles these scenes clinically yet sensitively.

Tragic yet heartwarming at-times, Euphoria’s strong performances and excellent script offer a compelling drama about the relationship between two sisters.


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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile

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