While away at college, a girl with oppressive religious parents falls in love with a female friend and tries to suppress the urges, only to arouse dormant telekinetic powers.
Do you remember Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie”; the horrific coming of age novel about the sheltered religious girl going through a period of awakening that allows her to use telekinetic powers? You do? Oh, well, then you’ve seen this movie already. The fact that this story follows pretty much the exact same path as Carrie’s story doesn’t inherently make it a bad thing; in fact, I rather enjoyed this film for the most part. It was just that about halfway through this film that I started to realize that a lot of the beats and themes felt familiar, even if the events themselves were slightly different. Trier’s script also made rather frequent jabs and Christianity, which, as the film wound on, tended to irk me more and more. There were a few twists that made the story interesting, and as far as technical aspects go there are some really impressive shots and scenes, but as a whole, I came away from this film feeling as if I had seen nothing new, and the anti-religious themes left me feeling cold.
“A little knowledge doesn’t make us better than others.”
Thelma (Eili Harboe, “The Wave”) enrolls at a university in Oslo against her parent’s wishes. Thelma’s parents, Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen, “The Almost Man”) and Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, “Blind”) are stiflingly overbearing; they make her call every night and constantly question her whereabouts. As Thelma’s parent’s views on life fade into memory, she begins to establish her own views on life. After an encounter with Anja (Kaya Wilkins, “Okay Kaya: Durer”), a beautiful classmate, Thelma finds herself obsessing over the woman, but tries to repress those urges. As she struggles to repress her homosexual tendencies (which go against her parent’s teachings), strange and frightening events begin to occur.
So first and foremost, the thing I don’t like about this film is the way that Christians are portrayed. I know that Christians have a reputation, particularly in other parts of the world, which labels us as close-minded and painfully judgmental of other religions and ways of life. I know that, sadly, because of small sects that call themselves members of my religion, we have this reputation of being hoity-toity humans that think themselves better than those who aren’t Christians. I know this is a view that some people have, and I feel sorry that that reputation is out there for Christians. Not all of us are like that, of course, a great number of us are people who are just trying to make it by, same as the rest of the human race. This film, however, continuously takes a stance that faith in general is repressing what humans could seek to be, and I don’t believe that theme for an instant. The theme is so prevalent that at times I found myself angrily rolling my eyes at the close-minded way this film viewed religious people. Roads work both ways, Mr. Joachim Trier; you can use your film to preach that all Christians are close-minded, but in doing so you’re being hypocritical: you are in turn showing how close-minded you are. The themes in this film were so in your face that I found I didn’t enjoy this film nearly as much as I would’ve had those themes been less prevalent. This movie feels preachy, if anything.
While I didn’t appreciate the themes of this movie, I must admit that there were some really great moments in it. The cinematography, for one thing, was absolutely gorgeous. Much of the film was lit in a cool, dim light that gave the whole of the movie a sort of uneasy feeling. There were some absolutely stunning shots of Norway’s countryside throughout the film, and some visually spectacular dream sequences. Eili as Thelma was a good choice; she was innocent enough to be alluring, while also peculiar enough to be slightly disquieting. She’s a character that rode the fence perfectly; I could never really tell what she was going to do next. Kaya Wilkins as Anja was also rather good, though I felt her character was less developed than I’d liked (though that was probably intentional, it didn’t really work entirely for me). The story was good, though again, it’s pretty much just the story of Stephen King’s “Carrie” (just replace Carrie having first period with Thelma having a sexual awakening). There are some twists and turns, and I can’t deny that Thelma’s powers are slightly more interesting than Carrie’s.
Overall this film was fine. If I’m being honest, the heavy-handed commentary on religion irked me enough to drop my rating a whole point. The film is shot well, it’s well acted, and the overall story is interesting (though familiar), but my own personal preferences keep me from giving this a higher rating. See this film if you want, skip it if you don’t want to see it. It’s a decent flick, but I can’t bring myself to like it.
This is part of our 31 Nights of Thrills Series. Not all of the movies we review for this series will be strictly horror, but all will have something to do with the spirit of things spooky or scary. If you like those types of movies, be sure to check back throughout the month of October!
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