Everlasting Moments

Starring Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen. Directed by Jan Troell.
Rated M (violence and infrequent coarse language). 109 mins.

This is the kind of fine film that is described these days as classical.  Jan Troell is now in his late 70s.  His international peak came in the first part of the 1970s with his Oscar-nominated epic, The Emigrants, which was followed by The New Land and Zandy's Bride.  Everlasting Moments was Sweden's nomination for the 2008 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and was in the final ten nominations.

Troell serves as a cameraman on this films, so the subject, both Sweden itself and photography in the early 20th century must have appealed to him.

This is quite a melancholic film.  The subject is a working class girl,who has worked as a maid, Maria (a beautifully dignified performance from Maria Heiskanen).  She wins a camera in a competition and her young man wants to have it.  She jokes that he can have it only if they marry.  They do.  She forgets about the camera until many years (and children) later.

Marriage is difficult and her husband (Mikael Persbrandt), a big and muscular man at the docks and other jobs, is also a drinker and, later, a womaniser (and one of those types who ingnores all personal responsibility and becomes suspicious of his wife's friendships).  Maria would like to leave him but there is the poverty, the care of the children and her elderly father reminding her that what God has joined no one can tear asunder.

Discovering the camera again, she finds that she has a talent and an eye for photographs.  Needless to say, her husband disapproves.  However, she is encouraged by the gentleman who owns a camera shop (Jesper Christensen).  They become good friends and she finds support in this friendship.

More pregnancies, World War I lingering over the years, her husband in military service, his return and his continued brutality...

The period, the poverty, the ethos of the times are all beautifully evoked, the colour palette rather sepia-imbued like the photographs of the time, the poses and framing like those photos as well.

The plot cannot help but be sad but for a patient and discerning audience, Everlasting Moments is well worth seeing.

Icon   Out November 2

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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