EVERLASTING MOMENTS (Jan Troëll, 2008)

Maria Heiskanen (best actress, Guldbagge Award; Valladolid) is moving and ultimately haunting as Maria Larsson in Jan Troëll’s episodic, though cumulatively very full chronicle of her and her family in early twentieth-century Sweden. She and Sigfrid Larsson, a docks laborer, along with their (eventually) seven offspring, struggle through a hard life, whose unmanning of Sigge’s sense of authority drives his bouts of drunkenness and frightening eruptions of abuse. Mainly, though, this is Maria’s story, which the Larssons’ eldest daughter, Maja, narrates. Based on a novel about a relation of hers by Troëll’s wife, Agneta, its visual storytelling is executed with great compassion and affection. Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick—literally, Maria Larsson’s Everlasting Moment—is one of Troëll’s very best films.
     The title refers to the mirrored self-portrait that Maria creates using the camera that she won in a lottery prior to her marriage—something that is hers alone; encouraged by photography shop owner Sebastian Pedersen, Maria achieves a liberating awakening of spirit by becoming a photographer of the world around her. Although she remains faithful to Sigge, she and Sebastian silently, gradually fall in love. Maria is a Finnish immigrant; Sebastian, Danish. Jesper Christensen (best supporting actor, Guldbagge Award) is phenomenal as Sebastian’s decency copes with the deepest feelings of his heart. When he feels he is being cuckolded by either the camera or Sebastian, or one in cahoots with the other, Sigge rages.
     Sigge returns from the First World War after Sweden’s monarch and two other regional monarchs decide to withdraw from the conflict and assert their countries’ neutrality: unexpected change for the good.
     A freeze frame indicates Maja’s using the camera to capture her parents robustly mid-dance.
     Best film (Guldbagge; Robert Festival). Leaning on gorgeous sepia, best cinematography, Troëll and Mischa Gavrjusjov (Valladolid).

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