Everlasting Moments

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Posted March 5, 2009 in Film

Swedish director Jan Troell’s tempered drama about a turn-of-the-century woman who decides she’d rather view the world through the lens of a camera is a fine, noble, and flat portrait of an artist coming into her own, at least, as much as she’s willing to. Maria (Maria Heiskanen) is a wife of an alcoholic dockworker and mother to seven children including solemn, blonde narrator Maja (Callin Öhrvall). Husband Sigfrid is a lout; we meet him shaming the family by coming home drunk and violent during a visit from the local school teacher. (The next day in class, Maja asks if the royal family hits their children. The teacher answers yes.) Much of Troell’s film teeters on moral clichés—we’re primed to want Maria to reach out to the shop owner (Jesper Christensen) who sees the photographer in this tentative mouse. As much of the running length is steady and dull, pairing Maria’s reawakening with the economic rise and fall of 1910 Scandinavia, we’re caught off guard by Troell, Niklas Rådström, and Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell’s denouement which curiously refuses to reconcile itself to the didacticism we’re expecting, and suggests instead that bad behavior can be corrected with ten years of patience—a choice that can be read as either false uplift or honest murk. (Amy Nicholson)

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