“Are We Lost Forever”, the feature debut film by writer/director David Färdmar, is still new on the scene in this very weird year of 2020 – but it’s already gaining attention. Starting off at the end of a relationship, we follow our leads, Adrian & Hampus, as they navigate the messy world of the post-breakup with all of it’s ups, downs, arguments, makeups, et al. (It actually started off as the Queer short film, “No More We” and was expanded upon for this feature film!) But while the plot is rather unique and inventive, I was not a huge fan of the end result. Let me break down why.
Synopsis of “Are We Lost Forever”
We start of watching Adrian (Björn Elgerd) and Hampus (Jonathan Andersson) sitting in bed, staring forwards. The tension between the two is sharp; their three year relationship is abruptly over. While they gloss over the specifics, it’s clear that Hampus wants out of the relationship & engagement – but Adrian is either utterly shocked or not surprised at this outcome. It also unfolds that this isn’t the first time they’ve broken up. Eventually, Hampus says he’s moving into his own place because their friends are moving in together. When Adrian gets up for breakfast, Hampus stays behind. But cuddles with Adrian’s pillow which is rather puzzling. Adrian keeps out of the way at his studio on the day Hampus moves out, but returns too early and finds their friends Helena (Shirin Golchin) and A-K (Michaela Thorsén) still helping with the move. But the last item Hampus wants ends up creating an issue – he wants his half of their bed. Adrian tries to control and overpower him, while also revealing the toxic relationship Hampus is trying to escape from, but Hampus gains courage and holds his ground. Later, Adrian is sleeping only on his remaining half of the bed.
A few days or weeks later, Adrian suddenly shows up when Hampus is leaving his work. Apparently, he had been trying to get in contact with Hampus but couldn’t and uses the guise of returning some miscellaneous things of Hampus’ he found in the attic. While it’s clear Hampus doesn’t want contact with Adrian, he finally concedes to meeting up for coffee sometime soon. But it’s not the answer Adrian wanted as Adrian ends up going for a hot hookup with an old mate! When Adrian and Hampus finally meet for coffee, Adrian tries to return his engagement ring. But Hampus refuses says that both he and his mom want Adrian to keep it. They briefly reminiscing about when Hampus proposed and the good times they shared, but that bit of happiness is shattered when Adrian tries to ask Hampus why… Hampus gives vague answer, but admits that neither of them have publicly updated their profiles now that they’re no longer together. Adrian clearly is hoping to reconnect, but is Hampus also holding out hoping? Apparently not, as Hampus calls Adrian a few nights later in tears and upset that it’s not “Facebook official”.
While at a bar with his friend Jack (Victor Iván), Adrian admits that he was getting bored with Hampus which is why he cheating on him – but the condom broke. He couldn’t face Hampus after that shame and started pulling away more. Suddenly Hampus comes into the bar and approaches them. Hampus misses their hot sex and is horny; he asks if Adrian wants to hookup again. “Adrian, don’t overanalyse.” Suddenly, they’re having hot sex (quite evocative too!) But the postcoital bliss quickly turns sour after Hampus asks why Adrian used a condom – and Adrian lies. They try to fuck again, this time with Hampus on top – but Adrian, who is always a top, pushes him out and even further away. A few weeks later, Adrian is reminiscing again while watching their beach vacation video. Excited and hopeful to rekindle what they had, Adrian invites Hampus out to dinner. But Hampus is distracted by texts from someone – it’s a new boyfriend! Suddenly Adrian gets jealous and bails on dinner. Continuing in his downward and aggressive spiral, Adrian goes over to Hampus’ apartment and tries demanding his half of the bed back – but breaks down after realising that Hampus’s new boyfriend is staying over, and that he’s lost Hampus.
Skipping ahead in time, it’s winter now. Adrian appears happier and finally meets up with a guy he’s been talking to online for a while, Rasmus (Micki Stoltt). When heading to the train station to meet Rasmus on his. next visit to see Adrian, Adrian accidentally spies Hampus and his new boyfriend at the same metro stop – but they don’t see him. While Adrian looked to be happy, suddenly he looks upset and lost. When Rasmus finally arrives later, he and Adrian share a romantic candlelit home-cooked dinner at home – before they end up having a very hot 69 session on the sofa! Later on in time, Adrian accidentally runs into Hampus and the new boyfriend, Julian (Nemanja Stojanovic), at the gym – but this time, they notice him. After the quick introductions, it’s clear that Hampus and Julian have been together for a couple months already. Adrian mentions that he’s been dating Rasmus for about the same timeframe. While the first meet was only in passing and brief, Adrian runs into Hampus again later – this time at the clinic getting sexual testing. While awkward, they both note that things are getting serious for both of them. Hampus eventually invites Adrian and Rasmus over for dinner.
While in bed the next morning after another hot sex scene, Adrian and Rasmus talk about their future: should they move in together, what about kids, etc. Adrian seems to want to move things along quickly, but Rasmus notes that they don’t even live in the same city yet. Rasmus cautiously asks about Adrian and Hampus, about why it didn’t work out for them, but Adrian evades the question. The day of the dinner, Adrian is extremely nervous, and his controlling side reappears when he makes Rasmus change his shirt. At the dinner, it’s a delicate balance between casual and awkward. Both Julian and Rasmus ask how Adrian and Hampus met, as neither had been told their back story. But things get very awkward for Adrian after Julian mentions that he and Hampus are looking to have a baby soon! While taking a break on the porch outside, Adrian admits to Hampus that he still loves him. Hampus replies that he does to, but then notes that it’s Hampus and Julian now. Though Hampus admits he’s afraid that he’ll mess it up like their relationship failed. Adrian actually apologises for cheating, and for not always showing how much he loved Hampus. But it’s too late.
When Hampus goes back inside to get ready to go out later, Julian slips out and has a talk with Adrian. Julian notes that Hampus has moved on and is happy now, and that Adrian should do the same – has a good opportunity with Rasmus. A few days later, it appears Hampus and Adrian have made up as they work to move the other half of the bed back into Adrian’s bedroom. But that’s only because Hampus and Julian are moving out of town. During an emotional and tearful goodbye, Adrian tells Hampus he needs to get going. “You’ve got someone waiting for you”. But what initially seems to be a sad ending changes to a glint of hope as Adrian joyously bikes along a country road into the setting sun.
“Are We Lost Forever” has a handful of problems, but its pacing is the worst. This film is slow…. REALLY slow. In theatre, silence or the absence of dialogue can provide a deep subtext that actually speaks volumes. There are moments in the film where this concept is used, such as right the beginning when we first come upon Adrian and Hampus sitting upright in bed. They are talking about something serious, with both boys gazing off into the camera as they try to cope or understand what’s happening. But as the tension slowly builds… we keep on waiting; to the point I started to get bored waiting. We finally discover that their three year relationship is now over, perhaps JUST over because they’re still sitting upright in their shared bed. But then they keep on sitting there, waiting – just like I was while watching “Are We Lost Forever”.
The plot and script of the film continue to have troubles, suffering most from prolonged build up to rather anti-climatic resolutions. But its not all lost. David Färdmar successfully captures that awkward process after a breakup where we go from ignorance, to trying to understand, to denial, to that final acceptance. But while it seems the intent is to pass Adrian’s emotions and thoughts on through to the viewer, we end up losing our interest rather quickly. In an interview, Färdmar notes that the concept for “Are We Lost Forever” was jotted down years before he began working on the script – as means to process and cope with the end of his own recent relationship. While I find the plot of the film quite fascinating, it almost feels like the film is so personal, it actually becomes hard to connect with – even though most of us can honestly relate to the emotions of Adrian, or even Hampus (who is trying to get out of a toxic relationship).
The last issue I have with “Are We Lost Forever” is with the actual cinematography. Please – someone buy the cameraman a stabiliser! I felt like beautiful smooth shots were ruined by a very distracting handheld camera shots. If it was intentional to give a personal or raw feeling to the moment, it failed. Thankfully, things improved as the film went on… but perhaps that’s due to the fact that they shot “Are We Lost Forever” chronologically and spaced out to capture the change of seasons. Either way, what would have been a full star for otherwise beautiful cinematography was cut in half because of shoddy camera work.
While I’m sure it seems like I’ve ripped “Are We Lost Forever” to shreds, it was not actually that bad. I promise! The rest of the cinematography itself was rather well done. Most camera shots were framed well, with a clear focus and eye on the details such as colour and set dressing, even staying relative to the mood of the story. The stark white of Adrian and Hampus’ bedroom walls, with white bedding, and even down to the white sheets and grey headboard is a rather jarring juxtaposition to the serious “break up” conversation occurring. And that’s just one of many examples! I equally loved the green background to Hampus new apartment later on.
Additionally, for all of the issues I had with the plot and slow pacing, there are some scenes in “Are We Lost Forever” that stood out as extraordinary. I couldn’t help it, but the sex scenes were quite captivating! (Sorry mom!) When Adrian has a quickie up with his old hookup buddy – it’s hot! Without showing anything naughty, we know exactly what is happening. Later, when Adrian and Hampus have makeup sex, we’re actually treated to an even more intense scene. This time, not only is the scene itself erotic but we get a crystal clear view of a cum shot, again without actually seeing anything. We do eventually get treated to some rather erotic butt shots – one occurs during a 69 sex act on the sofa between Adrian and his new beau, Rasmus! Alas, there’s no full frontal nudity. Sorry guys!
But it wasn’t always the sex scenes that impressed me. I actually loved the dinner scene between Adrian, Hampus, and their respective new boyfriends, Rasmus and Julian. It’s clear that Hampus has successfully moved on and is quite happy with Julian, but Julian easily can see that Adrian is still in love with Hampus. Without creating a scene, Julian tactfully addresses the issue in a way that finally allows Adrian to come to terms with the breakup. The scene afterward with Adrian biking through the country side was equally stunning and beautiful. With the yellow hues of the setting sun, we finally feel Adrian’s ability to be happy again, leaving us with a hint of hope for a happy future. And there is a darker side to the story that comes through rather well, how controlling Adrian is in contrast to Hampus’ easily persuasive personality. It’s very subtle, as often is the case in reality, but gives a dark depth and slight twist to the story that makes it a tad more interesting to watch.
Lastly, a few other elements worked well. The soundtrack nicely balances the emotions of the actors throughout the film, working to help evoke the mood of the moment. I honestly love the song Hampus writes midway through, which also gives the film its title: “Are We Lost Forever”. I honestly feel that our lead actors are talented, but as with another film I recently reviewed, I had a difficult time trying to ascertain whether they were successfully acting out a poorly written script and portraying rather reserved characters – or if there was another reason such as lack of direction or budding talent. I can’t say I’ve seen either in roles before, so I’ll give them the benefit of doubt – but it was enough to lost half a point.
This was a tough film to review. I REALLY wanted to like “Are We Lost Forever”. The trailer was captivating; the synopsis teased of a unique and untold before storyline. There were even brilliant moments throughout the film itself which I enjoyed. But the pacing utterly ruined it for me – I wanted to stop the film before the first scene finished because I was tired of waiting for the resolution to that moment. Unfortunately, the pacing kept up with the same dragged pace until the very end. Would I watch “Are We Lost Forever” again – No, Färdmar lost me forever. But it wasn’t because it was a waste of my time or a bad film. He successfully captured that awkwardness of a relationship ending before both parties accept that it’s over. For that reason alone, this film is worth watching! It’s just not a film or story I want to watch again.