Turned grapples with the harrowing yet common subjects of trauma and maturity. Set in Denmark, it follows Kasper (Sylvester Byder), a university student and race car driver at the beginning of his adult life and career. Kasper is in an abusive relationship with his father, Michael (Jacob Lohmann), who has pushed him into race car driving. Kasper tries to hide his relationship from his current girlfriend, Veronika (Clara Rosager). Despite his best efforts, trauma leads him to grow unemotional and distant towards Veronika, who tries in vain to find out why he is acting this way. All the while, Michael is training him for a big race that could mean the start of a successful career as a race car driver. The effect of the pressure from Veronika and Michael builds until Kasper is seated in his car as the race starts.
Turned does not shy away from the graphic reality of the abuse, showing Kasper as a child experiencing his father’s alcoholism and abuse of his mother. Writer/director Anders Walter’s sober depiction of such a difficult subject and the intense impact on Kasper’s life as a young adult is commendable. Elements of toxic masculinity are explored, as Michael was constantly stoic and unemotional towards Kasper. He never gives his son affection throughout the film, instead berating him about how much of a failure he is.
“…the pressure from Veronika and Michael builds until Kasper is seated in his car as the race starts.”
However, just one moment of affection would have shown a more nuanced version of how emotional abuse and manipulation happens. There are generally long stretches of lack of love separated by brief moments of affection and respect that act like a drug that keeps the abused feeling like they are the problem when they don’t receive affection. Despite some decent performances and an affecting look at abuse, Turned needs that moment to fully understand why Kasper never cut out his dad from his life altogether.
This simple narrative was effective at depicting a coming-of-age narrative through the lens of abuse, but it didn’t give me enough to empathize with Kasper fully. I could relate to him, but by the time the big race happened, I didn’t know him well enough to understand his decisions during the race. If Turned gave a more significant precedent and context for Kasper’s decisions, I would have been able to connect with him and his story a lot more.
"…effective at depicting a coming-of-age narrative through the lens of abuse..."