LGBT cinema is one of the most diverse exponents. Due to its theme, its stories are told depending on the gaze of the director, the scriptwriter, as well as the social situation that is exposed in the film, which allows period titles such as ‘Portrait of a woman on fire’, ‘Carol’ or ‘Maurice’ dazzle similarly to others more vindictive titles such as ‘My name is Harvey Milk’, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ or ‘120 beats per minute’.
In case of ‘Living without us’, debut feature by Swedish David Färdmar, follows a line already set by other directors such as Andrew Haigh, Ira Sachs or Lisa Cholodenko, when narrating a situation in a cosmopolitan, modern environment that narrates situations that touch the present of LGBT relationships. The main difference, being that its greatest virtue, is that It is a film that avoids any type of classic cliché associated with the cinema of this theme., which means there are no closet outs, internalized homophobia, workplace bullying, or problems in family relationships.
In this way, Färdman, who also writes the script, seeks to narrate a couple breakup as is, with the dramas of this type of breakup. Violent situations are not caused by intolerance, which invites you to look at his story from a different perspective. Undoubtedly, an intelligent step and one that must be applauded, as the filmmaker seeks to offer a different portrait to the new generations of homosexual men. And that is reflected in the age of its protagonists, who are between twenty and thirty, as well as the chemistry and the type of relationship between the two protagonists.
That is another point, the chemistry between Björn Elgerd and Jonathan Andersson. They waste so much passion that there comes a time when the feeling of being a voyeur spectator occurs. Both the intention of normalization and its leading actors are the main strengths of Färdmar’s debut. And it is that, despite good intentions, ‘Living without us’ has a serious problem: it is too light for what it wants to narrate and, finally, it does not know how to end this chronicle of a more than announced separation.
A debut feature full of good intentions
Yes, normalization is applauded and how the dialogues show how one’s own defects can end as a breakup and how learning from them is essential to build another positive relationship or, if it is not corrected, fall into the same problems. However, Färdmar treats him very lightly, with situations that can even be described as naive. On the other hand, although there is chemistry between its actors, his dialogues are extremely fake, with contradictory situations that Färdmar cannot explain. Saving the distances, titles such as ‘Weekend’, ‘Théo and Hugo, Paris 5:59’ or ‘Keep the Lights On’ have managed to better tell stories of love and heartbreak and They have managed to get out of the cliché without ignoring part of the legacy of gay culture.
Although normalization is a great intention, the director tries so hard to avoid portraying the relationship between his protagonists in a negative way, that the film ends up in a kind of no-man’s-land, which causes a harsh feeling of disappointment, as its beginning promised to be before a kind of ‘Secrets of a modern and millennial marriage’. In a way, the same thing happens to him as another gay title that narrated a relationship problem other than sexuality, ‘Tomcat’. However, the intention of telling a story far from stereotypes is appreciated, which invites us to think that a second feature film can help Färdmar to polish the defects of this first work.
The best: The chemistry between Elgerd and Andersson and the director’s desire to normalize the breakups of gay couples.
Worst: She is too light, her dialogues seem fake and she does not know how to end the story.