Hanne Myren’s Love Me
Best Actress/New Horizons Competition- Our parents prepare us for romantic love – or at least, they’re supposed to. Through their selfless dedication, our parents teach us our worth. Not born with confidence, we have to be taught how to practice it; we have to be taught what we deserve; taught not just what it means to be loved but how we should be loved.
What happens however, if our parents deny us their devotion and selfless love? What happens if the subjectivity-forming sphere of the family is defined by rejection and disappointment? Norwegian filmmaker Hanne Myren’s ‘Love Me’ addresses this question through its twenty 20-year-old protagonist Maria’s struggle to trust in and fully embrace her dedicated boyfriend Adam, after a lifetime with an inadequate and unpredictable father.
Rejected by the person who was meant to love her unconditionally, Maria developed a deep-seated insecurity that taints all aspects of her life, from her career to her relationship with Adam. A talented dancer, she gave up on her dream for fear of what she imagined would be certain failure, choosing instead to watch her peers succeed while she hid in the safe shadow of stagnation. Maria’s boyfriend Adam is caring and patient and has declared both his dedication and loyalty to her, but she isn unable to have complete faith in him. She constantly attempts to provoke him into hurting her, allowing her self-fulfilling prophecy to play out until eventually, he packs his bags and leaves.
Set in Oslo, the film follows Maria as she tries to misguidedly address her personal issues by attempting to reconcile and develop a stronger bond with her father. She doesn’t hate him – or she doesn’t believe that she does. On the contrary, she fiercely defends him to Adam, who constantly points out his flaws and shortcomings. Maria conjures excuse after excuse for why her father abandoned her as a child and why he continues to periodically disappear from her life. She longs for something seemingly basic from him – that he pick up the phone when she calls, that he be ever-present in her life, always there in the background, promising a shoulder to cry on, an ear to whisper into, a brain to bounce ideas off, a haven when escape is needed. She gives him chance after chance to step into the shoes he should have put on a long time ago, but Maria’s is only a part-time father, one who is unable to adopt the selfless attitude required of parents, leaving her feeling secondary to his own, separate life, one she is only allowed to visit but not fully occupy.
Fired from her job for taking a week off to tour Spain with him and left by the only man who ever loved her, the clouds finally lift from Maria’s judgement and she recognizes that her father is not the cure for her insecurities butrather the cause. She finally decides to abandon him for a change, asserting control over their relationship by deciding to cut him out of her life, finally assuring herself that he will never again disappoint her. Few themes are truly universal – Hanne Myren managed to find one.