The sad truth of human adult existence is the unlearning that we must go through to recognize that not all relationships end in the perfumed afterglow of happy longevity. Relationships are brittle; like an experiment in a chemistry lab, they may burst into flames if not carefully handled. Loving Adults, a Danish thriller directed by Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg, tries very hard to illustrate this glaring adult truth to its audience. It is successful to an extent, but at what cost?
A 104 minutes long feature film based on Anna Ekberg’s novel, Till Death do Us Part, this movie is about Christian (played by Dar Salim) and Leonara (played by Sonja Richter), a married couple desperately struggling under the weight of disenchantment with each other and their relationship, especially because Christian is quite openly in an adulterous relationship with Xenia (played by Sus Wilkins).
One of the most prominent inspirations for Loving Adults appears to be Gone Girl (2014), directed by David Fincher. The film, unfortunately, dips and soars but mainly falters under the weight of the overarching expectations for it to be dark and gruesome in its depiction of a couple at loggerheads with each other. Some scenes push you to the edge of the seat in palpable tension, but the film isn’t quite capable of helping this suspense sustain itself through the runtime. To top it all, the performances are mediocre, the extremity of desperation in them snubbed under a garb of undifferentiating facial expressions. As a result, the product is humble but middling.
Nevertheless, there are a sufficient number of twists and turns in the plot of this film that may make it appear confusing after you have streamed it on Netflix. Don’t worry; here’s a breakup of the plot of the film, Loving Adults and an explanation of its ending. How far will Leonara go for love? Well, read on to figure it out. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Loving Adults Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film begins with a man recalling this particularly interesting case that he was engaged in inquiring into, featuring the married duo Christian and Leonara. The story he is about to tell the young woman is one of the side-effects of a long-term metamorphosis of love that most young people, he believes, are happy to blissfully ignore early in their lives.
We are led into a story about a man who sets out to murder his wife in a hit-and-run accident when she is out on her daily run. Soon, we meet Christian and Leonara, lying in bed on their sides late at night. Christian’s phone rings in a notification. Soon, more notifications ring in and a fight breaks out between them, ending with Christian’s mobile phone being hurled at the wall. Leonara is suspicious that Christian is cheating on her. The next morning, Christian goes to work – a successful and sustainable engineering firm – and is seen passionately engaged with a co-worker, Xenia. Leonara chases after her suspicion, trying to find some data to validate it until the night of a party hosted by Peter, Christian’s colleague, where she discovers them having sex in Christian’s cabin.
Christian soon comes clean about his extramarital affair with Xenia to Leonara, but she threatens to expose a fraud he had pulled off years ago to the police. A bewildered Christian is now stuck in a classic catch-22 situation, at the brink of losing his ‘true love’ and serving prison time. In his effort to help Leonara understand his case better, he reaches out to an old friend of hers who fills him in on the rumours of a dated urban legend about how Leonara murdered an old lover by pushing him off the cliff during her teenage years. However, when nothing seems to help, Christian decides to murder her in a seemingly hit-and-run accident when she is out on her daily run. He carries out the plan, only to realise later in the night that Leonara is alive; she had opted for a new route that day. He has accidentally murdered someone else, a distressing revelation.
Soon, the police are involved; we find the narrator of the story as the investigating officer in this case. Leonara is curious when she learns that the dead woman is a mother of three, and the investigations reveal that the perpetrator might have been riding a white van that drove off after committing the crime. The realization dawns upon her soon that it was Christian who committed the murder; his motive may have been to kill her instead. She also finds evidence to back herself up. She confronts him and, flummoxed, flees from the house in his car.
Later that evening, she meets him in a restaurant and offers to design a plan with him to help him gather an alibi and murder Xenia to rid him of the adulterous affair. She wishes to be an accomplice. In return, Leonara wants nothing more than for him to return to his family. She reveals how she had designed her own alibi using sound when she came to be involved in the murder of her old boyfriend, Mike. She seems to have the perfect plan! Christian decides to go along – more manipulated into the situation than willing – but takes one wrong turn. Leonara knows something has gone wrong and does not stand it. Will Leonara and Christian go back to leading the happy family life and pretend that these incidents took place in a shared nightmare? Well, we only know that the girl listening to the narrator is his daughter, and it is her wedding day. The story is a cautionary tale about love from her father before she walks down the aisle toward the man of her dreams!
Did Christian really kill Leonara?
On the evening of the hit-and-run, Christian waits for Leonara along the route of her daily run. As soon as he spots a figure clothed in a red raincoat and wearing black leggings, he starts to follow them, ultimately running into the person over and over to ensure they are dead. Back home and still reeling under the gravity of his actions, Leonara confronts him about his presence in the house. For a moment he considers that he is hallucinating but soon enough the reality of the incident strikes him – Leonara is alive; he has murdered someone else.
Leonara casually reveals to him that her new route is almost 20 kilometers long, as opposed to the usual 14, which is why that evening she wasn’t on the same trail as she is every day. Christian, hence, is guilty of murdering an anonymous woman from the neighborhood, who the police reveal was a mother of three children out on her daily run. The mistake is genuine on Christian’s part – she was clothed in the same kind of attire as Leonara – but the crime was committed on an impulse.
What happens to Xenia in the end?
Leonara has a foolproof plan of how she wishes to unentangle Christian from his adulterous affair. She wants Xenia to be murdered and gotten rid of while making the scene of the crime appear to be a burglary. Christian is to perform his murder, but once inside Xenia’s cabin, his love (read: lust) for her overtakes his senses. He dumps the idea of murdering her, keeping her away from her cell phone so that she can avoid looking at the message that Leonara has sent her from his phone, and makes love to her.
As Xenia gets up and goes to the washroom to freshen up, Leonara sneaks up behind her and stabs her to death. She tells Christian that she knew he wouldn’t be able to do it. Later, when the police reach the scene, it appears that Xenia’s house has been carefully robbed and her body has gone missing. It is a scene of crime so neat that it arouses suspicion. While the police are trying to solve the mystery of where Xenia’s body could be so that they can link Christian to her death, Leonara and Christian participate in the Midsummer festivities. To commemorate it, they ritualistically light a fire to a heap of dry branches on a platform in the middle of a nearby lake. We find out that the couple had hidden Xenia’s body in this wooden pile; once the pile is lit on fire, Xenia’s body gets cremated. The remains, as we come to know in the end, lay awaiting their redemptive justice below the waters of this lake.
Why does Leonara want Christian to stay with her?
Leonara has been the stay-at-home wife and caregiving mother to their son, Johan, in all her years of marriage with Christian. She is clearly afraid of what will happen to her when Christian walks out of the marriage. Her skills as a violinist are rusty now, and she doesn’t know how to sustain herself. In light of these considerations, Leonara’s bewilderment at Christian’s adultery is justified. She wants him to give the marriage another try, if not for her then for their teenage son.
She also harps upon how the family is all they have; that they must try to stick together as a unit. However, we soon come to realize that Leonara may have old, unaddressed mental health issues from her past because she has overcome a bout of jealousy once, killing her boyfriend. The reasons are not clearly stated in the course of the film, but Leonara seems to be capable of going the distance to save her marriage, even if it is at the cost of an innocent life, her husband’s trust, and their love.
Does Christian get arrested in the end?
While the police are nose-deep into the investigations of the death of the woman out for a run and the disappearance of Xenia, knowing fully well that Christian might be the perpetrator of the crimes, they have no evidence to convict him. By the end of the film, we come to understand that the police were very close to finding the remains of Xenia’s body but for the midsummer festivities, her body is cremated and they are forced to believe that they have been led along a false trail by their sniffer dog. Besides, the narrator also confesses that the case remained unsolved till the end, so it is unlikely that Christian ever got arrested by the police for these mishaps.
Loving Adults Movie Ending, Explained
Leonara plans the perfect murder of Xenia and manipulates Christian into acting according to her whims. The couple decides to spend a relaxing weekend away from the city, putting up a show to strengthen their alibi. However, the plan is to sneak Christian out of the place so that he can go to Xenia’s cabin and murder her. The crime scene must look like it was burgled is their idea.
Leonara continues to pretend in front of the hotel staff at their place – ordering and receiving food in their suite – as if her husband were in the shower. Meanwhile, Christian has arrived at Xenia’s cabin and apologizes to her for not having contacted her, confessing that it is her he loves so much. Even though the message about him leaving Xenia to stay behind with his family sent by Leonara from his phone is delivered to her, Christian distracts Xenia with a passionate urgency to have sex. The plan to murder her remains suspended. After coitus, when Xenia goes to the washroom, she finds Leonara behind her. She stabs Xenia with a knife in cold blood and informs Christian that she did what she had to do because she was aware that he hadn’t been able to execute the plan. A distraught Christian can only kneel on the floor and hold Xenia’s naked dead body into his arms before they go on to execute the rest of the plan.
When the police arrive on the scene the next day, being reported by the neighbors for burglary, they discover the place being speckless and Xenia missing from the cabin. They discover the last text message from Christian on her phone and go to their place to investigate her death. Although they don’t appear to be comfortable with the interrogation and seem suspicious in the way they act, their alibi seems to be in place. They confess to being aware of the extramarital affair, stating clearly that the romantic retreat was a way for them to reconcile their marriage. The officers leave their house in search of Xenia’s body, hoping that its discovery could tie Christian-Leonara with her murder.
On the day of the commemoration of Midsummer festivities, Christian and Leonara are part of the community who light a bonfire on a platform in the middle of a lake. While the police start to raid the woods near the lake, Christian sets sail toward the bonfire to light it up. The climax builds up to Christian setting light to the bonfire while the police reach the shore of the lake. It is later revealed that Xenia’s body was hidden behind in this pile of woods prepared for the bonfire. The police, disheartedly conclude that it must have been a false trail.
In the end, the narrator and his bride-to-be daughter sum up their story by wondering what could have happened to Xenia’s remains. The moral of the story is quite simple – love begets jealousy, and jealousy always begets crime! Loving Adults takes too many pointless turns to arrive at the conclusion, but who can deny that life can be meandering at times?
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Loving Adults Trailer