We have believed for a while now that Netflix needs a new content writer. The summary of “Off Track” led us to believe that it was the story of Lisa alone, but it turned out to be so much more than that. It essentially revolves around the Vasa Race, which is a 90-kilometer skiing race, and what it means to the people who participate in it. We had our doubts about this movie since it is not an entirely original plot: a mother trying to get back on her feet uses a near-impossible feat to prove that she is better than everyone believes. Considering that “Off Track” was released on a Wednesday, we had serious misgivings about tuning into it after a long day at work. Turns out, we were about 70% right. (This is an approximate estimate; please don’t ask us to explain it). Let us see why we feel that way and what could have been done differently to prove us wrong.
Lisa is a down-on-her-luck single mother who ends up way too drunk and in a jail cell one particular day. She is released the next day, and she asks her brother Daniel to come to pick her up so that she can be in time for her daughter’s recital. She gets there, but after the performance, her husband tells her that he knows about her night in jail and that it might be better if Elvira spends the day with him. Lisa does not like the insinuation that she is careless and takes her daughter home. But he turns out to be right, as Lisa’s carelessness makes the washer overflow, and her house is flooded. Her husband takes Elvira away. He advises Lisa to get herself together if she wants Elvira to continue being a part of her life.
Elsewhere, Daniel and his wife are facing their own struggles. They have been trying to have kids for years but without any results. Lisa moves in with them for a while. Daniel is somewhat supportive of her, and he takes her skiing one day, where she fails miserably. Dejected, she goes to a bar, where she runs into Philippa and Elvira. Seeing them bonding and watching Philippa be such a good role model to Elvira, Lisa gets insecure and tells her that she will be participating in the Vasa Race as well. Lisa started training with her brother, and she seemed determined to do so. An investigation has been opened by Child Protection Services after they were informed by Lisa’s ex that Elvira used to miss school a lot or be late constantly due to her mother. She had also complained of stomach irritations. Lisa is shocked at these but is forced to consider what her erratic behavior could mean for her child. She tells the officer that she is participating in the Vasa Race.
Meanwhile, Daniel and Klara’s struggles continue. Daniel is unable to make it to one of their IVF treatments and hence, sends his sample through a taxi driver. Unfortunately, the clinic has rules that the person must come themselves so that they may verify the authenticity of it. Daniel arrives just in time, and through their combined samples, they manage to get one embryo. But we also come to know that Daniel does not like talking about this with other people, and that is a constant problem between the two of them. Either way, the two of them continue with their lives, and the three months until the race pass fast enough. Just sometime before the race, the couple comes to know that their embryo did not survive the thawing. They are both extremely heartbroken and take solace in each other. Later, they have a big fight because Klara doesn’t want to go to the race anymore, but Daniel does, and she ends up blaming him for their situation. She refuses to come for the race, so Daniel and Lisa end up going alone. Their bad luck continues when Klara accidentally cancels the reservation, and they have to spend the night in a school with the other participants. There is a sort of celebration that evening where Daniel meets Naomi, a pro skier, and Lisa meets Andres, the police officer she had run into when she had spent the night in a cell. Daniel is very taken in by Naomi, and he follows her to her house in the woods. He is impressed by her life and the freedom that she has chosen for herself. Looking at Daniel here, we come to understand that this is probably what he has wanted for a long time. He was an uptight perfectionist who cared a lot about his image. Maybe he wasn’t able to handle the fact that they couldn’t have children because of him, and that is why he seemed so distant from his wife’s efforts. It is also possible that he did not want children at all and was just going through the motions for his wife. We are inclined to believe the second possibility.
Meanwhile, Lisa is having a good time with Andres, and she follows him back to his house when it looks like her brother won’t be returning to the school. One thing that becomes clear is that Andres is the misfit in his family, and he and Lisa are compatible like two peas in a pod. She confesses to him that she was on sick leave for her depression and has since been unemployed. Andres understands her when she says that she can’t be in a relationship with him and tells her that he will be racing with her. On the day of the race, Daniel confesses to Lisa that he wants to divorce Klara and start over. Lisa just chalks it up to nerves. Elvira makes her way to the finish line alone to meet her mother after her dad tells her that they can’t go to meet her. Emotions are getting messier, and race seems to be the solution for them all.
When the race starts, it means a lot of things to everyone. Daniel realizes that Naomi is not the person he thought she was, especially when she tells him to relieve himself in his pants and skis away with yellow streaks in her own pants. But Naomi being out of consideration is still not enough for the confusion in his mind to clear. Andres and Lisa ski together for a while before he has to leave as his mother falls sick on the track. Daniel goes off-track to avoid meeting Klara, who takes a taxi from Stockholm to meet him at the finish line. Elvira’s father and Philippa are desperately looking for her, as she has set off alone to meet her mother. It is mayhem and madness. Lisa still has 40 km to go to finish the race, and she is about to give up when she decides not to. With great difficulty, she ended up finishing the whole 90 km of the race. She is injured and has coughed up blood, but neither factor has stopped her. That ends with her being declared the true heroine of the entire event.
Meanwhile, Daniel is lost in the woods, but Klara manages to track him down on a sled. Both of them reconcile and decide that they have stuff to sort out between themselves. They all meet at the finish line, with Elvira, Lisa, and Daniel, and it is a true, if not the only, really emotional moment of the movie. Days after the race, Klara tells Daniel that she is pregnant, and with that news, the couple reconciles. It would be an understatement to say that we were not fond of this ending for the couple. We were happy when, at the race, they talked about sorting out their issues instead of taking the cliche route of declaring their love for each other. That had made them feel more real. Their getting back together just feels like an empty thing to write for the movie. But on another note, Lisa has pulled her life together and started her practice again. She is also seeing Andres, indicating that good times are in store for her. To be honest, we did not like her character arc either. She was obviously an irresponsible person. Let us say that she “learned” responsibility through her efforts for the race. But we did not see her character growth at all, which makes us feel that the ending of “Off Track” is very hollow. It lacks an emotional core because it tries to do too much. The makers should have stuck to one character and done that well instead of biting off more than they could chew.
The biggest problem with “Off Track” is that the story did not have a proper storyteller. We first felt this due to the obvious lack of screen time during Lisa and Daniel’s training for the race. That was supposed to be the transformative period for them—the time that builds the character and not just the race, which is just the pretty ribbon at the end. It is absolutely sad that the makers failed to give it its due importance. Daniel’s character needed to be defined better, and Naomi was a completely unnecessary character who added nothing to the story other than making Daniel even more unlikeable. We did like Andres, and in the little screen time he had, he was charming. “Off Track” wasn’t even mildly enjoyable. It was just something that played on the screen while we checked our phones and went through our chores. Do tune into it if that is what you are looking for, or there are always “Friends” or “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” for that kind of repeated viewing.
“Off Track” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by Marten Klingberg.
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'Off Track' Ending, Explained: Why Do Lisa And Daniel Participate In The Race? Does Lisa Finish The Race? | DMT – DMT