Denmark in the 1930’s was not a great place to live if you were a free-spirited girl in her teens. Maren (Emilie Kroyer Koppel) is one such teen, out most nights drinking and dancing with older men while toiling away in a factory rather than being in school during the day. Her carefree attitude is not looked upon kindly by child services, who convince her mother that she must be mentally deficient in behaving in such a manner and convince them to institutionalize her. Sent to what equates to the Alcatraz of girls’ reform institutes on a remote island, Maren rebels, and questions all authority around her, eventually influencing the same out of her fellow occupants.
As horrific as the real-life details of these places are, Unruly is not based on a specific story but inspired by many. The film doesn’t delve too deep into the darker sides of this business. And while other films have tackled similar subject matter including the forced sterilization that soon follows, even at TIFF this year, Unruly excels due to the searing performances from its lead Kroyer Koppel and her rival turned friend Sorine played by Jessica Dinnage. The two hold the screen transfixed, more when it’s just the 2 of them together on screen, and the pair match each other in intensity and skill. While the rest of the cast do good work here too, this is a film that rises on the backs of these 2 performances to soar above the crowd.
- Release Date: 9/10/2022