Sydney Film Festival Review: Europe, She Loves (Sweden, 2015)

If there’s anything that sticks with you the most about Jan Gassmann’s latest documentary effort Europe, She Loves, it’s the striking cinematography. A surprisingly intimate look into the emotions and lives of five couples across Europe, the film never really looks, nor feels, like a documentary. It wears its authenticity with pride, inviting you to engage and connect with a snapshot of modern European identity politics.

The film follows four couples in four countries, the trials they face and the forces that shape their lives. It’s often said of the best documentaries that they lose themselves in their subject matter but it feels disingenuous to describe Europe, She Loves in any other way. The cinematography and direction in the film is jaw-dropping in both scope and intimacy.

The Greek couple, Penny and Niko, struggle to make sense of the age-difference between them in the shadow of their country’s growing political turmoil. Estonian duo Veronika and Harri struggle to make ends meet while managing their family. Meanwhile, Caro and Juan struggle to determine their future, be it together or apart, in Seville and Irish couple Siobhan and Terry struggle with drug-addiction.

If there’s any constant to the stories here, it’s struggle but in a wholesome sort-of way. Each of the stories in Europe, She Loves is as much about larger systemic issues like financial instability and neo-fascism as it is smaller more-nuanced personal ideas about what it means to be in a relationship.

A big part of this comes with the documentary’s ability to follow these couples behind traditionally closed-doors. Their sexuality is a big part of who they are and exploring that, alongside how it feeds back into the rest of their decisions, brings the film a kind of honesty that has to be seen to be believed.

Europe, She Loves is ambitious documentary unlike any other. It winds its way through the private, public and political spheres with ease and presents you fascinating individuals, and a Europe, struggling to make sense of itself.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Europe, She Loves is screening at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. For more information about the festival and screening times, click HERE.