Sydney ’16: Europe She Loves review: An intimate observation of four twenty-something couples as Europe teeters on the verge of social and economic change
Does love conquer all in the politics of relationships? Europe She Loves review direct from this year’s Sydney Film Festival.
Director Jan Gassmann teams up once again with Ramon Giger (Off Beat, Karma Shadub) to this time, observationally document the lives of four, twenty-something couples during a pivotal time in Europe’s political future. Intimately framed and unabashedly candid, Europe, She Loves steers away from the atypical talk of social and economic changes and instead, offers a glimpse into something infinitely more personal: the politics of relationships. Of what happens when partners cease communicating and their emotions take over.
Struggling on the fringes of their respective cities – in places and settings where Europe’s political future will be decided – each of the four young couples are at varying stages in their relationship. In Tallinn, gogo dancer Veronika thinks that having children is the problem to her and Harri’s happiness. A true blended family, Veronika wishes that Harri could love her son Artur (from a previous relationship) as much as their son Karlo, and supporting Harri as he attempts to connect with a teenage daughter he never knew about. In Seville, Karo is hoping and failing to be accepted into her Masters program whilst boyfriend Juan struggles to find employment. In Dublin, Terry and his beloved poo-poo Siobhan – ‘a gross little name’ she tells him – are recovering heroin addicts trying to make ends meet by busking and in Thessaloniki, competitive couple Penny and Nico are at crossroads over ending their long-term relationship before she moves to Genoa for work.
Whilst there are many things one can appreciate about the film such as the extent to which the couples openly showcase their dysfunction, dreams and frustrations and behaviours in and out of the bedroom, the interspersed montages of Europe’s social and economic climate created using archival footage and voice overs seem unnecessary and become more distractive as the film progresses. Giger’s shots of Siobhan receiving food staple hand-outs or Terry scoring heroin in Dublin and Penny and Niko’s experiences being separated during an increasingly heated street protest in Thessaloniki say and show everything that we need to hear and see. Powerful messages expressed through experience from the very real people who have opened themselves up to sharing their life onscreen.
I suppose that’s the point of Europe, She Loves. That despite the struggles one can face in life, being in a relationship, communicating and supporting the person whom you love most, can make anything better.
Europe, She Loves review by Sacha Hall, June 2016.