Dystopian Short Heartless Imagines a World of Endless Arranged Marriages

Dystopian Short Heartless Imagines a World of Endless Arranged Marriages

Imagine meeting the person you want to spend your life with — but you live in a community where partners are forcibly switched via a lottery on a regular basis, and no amount of true love makes any difference. That’s the premise of Heartless, an Icelandic sci-fi short directed by Haukur Björgvinsson, first spotted on Short of the Week.

OK, technically there is an out — couples who wish to stay together can test their relationships by “selfishly” remaining inside that egg-shaped vessel for seven long years. What happens in there? From what we can tell, nothing good.

Here’s the official synopsis: “Young couple Anna and Gunnar are deeply in love but they live in a society where people are assigned a new spouse by lottery every seven years. As their final day together approaches, they grapple with the nightmare of being torn apart and facing life with another partner.” Before that, we flash back to their early days together — and get a window into the strange circumstances of the society they live in, illustrated rather perfectly by Anna’s mother and her own growing collection of “happy couple” portraits and that truly bizarre lottery scene. It’s a high-concept idea that leaves a lot of questions purposefully unanswered, but it’s executed with an austere elegance, not to mention some heaping spoonfuls of agony and heartbreak.

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