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A Couple of Relationships
by Christine Riney

The desire to understand human relationships is a key theme in movies and is prominently on display at most film festivals, as it is in life. Whether the film is delving into the yearning to find a relationship, the desperation of keeping a relationship, the various dysfunctional relationships between people, or even, to our delight, the relationships that have a happy ending. The BFI London Film Festival 2022 is no exception with a range of relationship films on the schedule, here are two that are worth a watch.

FAST & FEEL LOVE, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, Thailand 2022

Kao, (Nat Kitcharit) is determined to be the best at his sport, competitive stacking. To be the fastest stacker in the world he must focus completely and practice every hour possible. Kao needs to do nothing else, just stack and stack and stack. Kao’s long-time girlfriend Jay (Urassaya Sperbund) enables him by taking care of his every need as well as everything else in his life, absolutely everything else. As the couple grows up Jay is so consumed by caring for Kao and supporting him in achieving his dreams, she loses sight of what is important to her, what are her dreams, and where she sees her future heading.

At a key point in the realization of all of Kao’s hopes, Jay finally acknowledges she needs more, settling for Kao’s dream is not enough for her, and she leaves him without a word. Only after Jay is gone does Kao appreciate all that Jay had done for him - ironing, mopping, shopping, fetching – basically pandering to his every wish to ensure he could stack.

Living for someone else's passions is never going to end well for either person in a relationship. When one takes the other for granted, resentment builds, and one person wants out. Unfortunately, the one being taken for granted is often only genuinely appreciated after they are gone. However, Jay must also take some of the blame for the breakdown of their relationship. Jay controlled so much of Kao's life, allowing him to become a 30-something year old man who had no idea how to be an adult, including being in an adult relationship.

SICK OF MYSELF (SYK PIKE), Kristoffer Borgli, Norway 2022

Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and Thomas (Eirik Sæther) are pathological, both in their own way, and they manage to find each other and form a rather dysfunctional couple. Thomas is an artist who steals furniture to make his sculptures. Signe works in a coffee shop. As Thomas’ fame increases it proves too much for the self-centered Signe who needs a ‘hook’ of her own; working in a coffee shop just doesn't cut it in the artsy world.

Signe and Thomas’ competition for the limelight takes ever more toxic steps. Thomas finds increasingly petty ways to belittle Signe and Signe finds more and more bizarre ways to draw attention away from Thomas. As the competition escalates, we watch in fascination as Signe tries to get a dog to attack her and ends with her deliberately poisoning herself to gain the attention she believes she so richly deserves.

These are two truly terrible people who found each other and form a disaster of a relationship that truly brings out the worst in each other. As we watch their narcissistic competition for attention reach new heights, we realize that some relationships are definitely not meant to be. Some people should not be together and these two are a perfect example. Norwegian films are everywhere at the moment and are worth the buzz. Although the dark humor is sometimes a little hard to appreciate the plot always has its own pacing and often moves in a way that you do not expect.