Isabelle Eklöf’s ‘Holiday’ Portrays a Harrowing, Violent Reality

Please note that this review contains discussion of rape and sexual assault.

In her directorial debut, Holiday, Isabelle Eklöf aimed to make a bold statement. With a stark setting and a naive protagonist, she showcases the brutality of relationships and the roles women are expected to play, using rape, spousal abuse, and murder to make her point. While some cases of extreme violence are merely exploitative and exhausting, Eklöf portrays a disturbing reality that works to expose exploitation rather than wield it.

Young, blonde, and beautiful Sophie is on vacation with her crime boss boyfriend, spending her days in the sun and her nights drinking by the pool or at a club. Her job is to wear short skirts, look pretty, and be ready to have sex whenever her boyfriend demands it. She is a puppet, which is seen very literally when Michael drugs her and manipulates her unconscious body into various positions. Sophie’s dissatisfaction with this life begins to bubble through the surface, first through long looks at herself in the mirror, then through a friendship with a man she meets at an ice cream shop. But even this friendship cannot save her. Holiday is 90 minutes of a naive girl trying to be whatever her boyfriend wants her to be, only to realize the price of such obedience.

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