ALIVE is a short film, under 25-minutes, about friendship, desire, and acceptance, both within oneself and in society. As the film opens, we see two women, one standing next to a wheelchair, not hers, but assisting a woman who is seat-belted in a chair, being lowered into a pool. The camera stays wide and cold, just allowing the audience to observe the situation. The shot does not linger, but this establishing shot shows us clearly the situation and relationship of these women. At the same time, we see a man effortlessly lower himself into the pool and swim by; with almost no words, the camera and action on screen has shown the audience that Victoria, the woman in the wheelchair, lives a different life than the people around her.
Quickly, the next scene again shows us uncomfortable situations that Victoria is placed in and how she is treated differently, which we can assume is because of her life being in a wheelchair. Whether that is the case or not, that is absolutely how Victoria feels. She desires to be wanted by men, in the way she sees her caretaker, Ida, interact with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Bjorn, has surprised them while they navigate a trail, and the close up shot of Victoria and Bjorn’s handshake zones in on the awkwardness and lack of awareness Bjorn has for her. He reaches out to shake her hand, doing what is comfortable and natural to him--leading with his right hand. Victoria, unable to meet him with her right hand, offers her left. The handshake is half-hearted.
Victoria seems empty, emotionless in all of her activities. We see her relationship with Ida start grow from caretaker and patient to friend when Victoria confides in Ida through tears that “no one wants someone like her”. Ida responds--that is just not true and suggests to make a Tinder profile to prove it to her. I love that Ida does this. She does not attempt to lecture her, she treats her the same way she would treat any of her friends claiming to be undesirable or lovable, by taking action to make her realize her worth.
Ida quickly becomes protective of Victoria when she confesses that she is going to meet with a man she has met on Tinder. Ida insists that she should be at her house when the man comes to visit, although Victoria says it is unnecessary. We realize that Ida is not concerned because of Victoria’s physical limitations, but because she genuinely cares about Victoria’s well-being--the same way she would about any friend going on a date with a stranger. After Victoria meets with the man, Ida is immediately there, lingering outside her door to make sure she is okay. The two women have a conversation reminiscent of close girlfriends--dicussing men and sex and fun totally without judgement.
What I love most about ALIVE is that it shows that every person deserves to feel desired, loved, and accepted. The film uses an unconventional way of delivering this message, through a rare friendship and a one-night-stand we can understand so easily how all humans desire the same thing.