Home Featured Featured4 Netflix’ “Battle” Portrays the Internal Battle for Identity

Netflix’ “Battle” Portrays the Internal Battle for Identity

A picture of two teenagers, a boy and girl with arms folded looking at each other longingly.
Actors Lisa Teige and in "Battle".

This isn’t your Vikings shield wall or WWII bombing raid, the battle being fought in the appropriately named film “Battle” pits the dancing ambitions of one teenage girl against the desires of her soul and body.  In short, the heroine, Amalie must discover who she really is and how she wants to live, no small feat, but a teenage girl whose been thrown out of her house with few personal belongings, deposited into a completely different social strata and way of life, and hiding the upheaval from her rich friends who attend the same private dance school, is a lot to ask of anyone.

Bankruptcy in Norway Really Sucks!

Such is the life of Amalie and her father when the bank comes calling, and in one very painful scene, boots them out of their house by force, allowing them one suitcase of personal possessions, and a cab ride to the nearest government housing.  Surprise!  Of course Amalie’s dad knew this was coming and in a moment of despair tries to protect Amalie from the humiliation he feels both as a father and a man.  But there is no polite way to skirt the issue, no way of avoiding the truth, and as they settle into their noisy one bedroom apartment, he tries to explain how his development deal went bad, and how they’re unable to go back, ever.  What might cause any teenager to fall flailing on her bed, sobbing and beating the pillow, causes Amalie to hide the truth from everyone she knows, admittedly, not the most sympathetic lot, and try to find a place to practice her modern dance audition piece.  This is the first glimpes we get of her character, and it’s a good one.

While this story could have gone many directions, it takes the path of new discoveries, both for Amalie and her new friend, Mikael.  When Amailie looks for a new place to practice, she meets Mikael who lives in the same neighborhood and they hit it off with a synergistic intensity of kindred spirits.  She meets his friends on his dance team, and soon Mikael introduces her to the underground world of dance battle.  The different choreography and intensity of the battles intimidate Amalie at first, but after Mikael apologizes for pushing her too fast into competing on stage, she eases into a world she is so clearly meant for.  His apology in a song he sends to her, speaks to her soul in their shared language of love.  They speak each other’s language with music and movement and there is no misunderstanding what they mean.

What This Film Does Well…Everything                                                     

This story could have been so cliche, as predictable as any teenage drama, but the director, Katarine Launing and writer, Maja Lunde focus on the characters’ vulnerabilities as their strengths.  Amalie feels something for Mikael and for her new dancing, and this gives her the strength to make new choices in her life.  Even when she denies really knowing Mikael in front of her friend, and can’t seem to break up with her completely incompatible, spoiled brat of a boyfriend, we know why.  She’s got to take another chance, this time of losing even more than her house and her things.  She must risk finding out the truth about who her friends really are, and the truth of who she really wants to be.

As for the dancing, it shines.  The dancers soar in spirit and step, they really don’t miss a beat, literally.  Their amazing talent is soul affirming.  The music sounds and feels like part of the dancers’ breath, muscle and bone – The two so intertwined, you can’t imaging one without the other.

Beautiful, realistic writing reveals the truth of the story – That everyone has choices to make, and they take you in directions you cannot predict.

The cinematography by Jorgen Johansson is equally decisive making the choice to intimately follow the characters, as if we were one of the crowd, dancing or watching the battles along with everyone else.  This works to further cement the realistic, unpretentious style of the film.

The Satisfying Ending

Of course our lovers fall apart and must come back together in a way that speaks to both of them, in their shared language.  A battle at the end of the story demonstrates in the best possible way, their love for each other, and Amalie’s choices blooming into action.  Actors Lisa Teige and Fabian Svegaard Tapia play their parts to perfection.  Brilliantly cast for the roles, it seems they are perfect for each other!  A beautiful film – Producer Pal Roed said it best when he said ‘(A film) about…pride and prejudice…teenage hormones, hopes and dreams.’