Sunday, December 27, 2009

DVD Views: Everlasting Moments

Everlasting Moments *** ½
Directed By: Jan Troell.
Written By: Niklas Rådström & Jan Troell & Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell.
Starring: Maria Heiskanen (Maria Larsson), Mikael Persbrandt (Sigfrid Larsson), Jesper Christensen (Sebastian Pedersen), Callin Öhrvall (Maja Larsson - age 15-22), Nellie Almgren (Maja Larsson - age 8-10).

Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments is the type of film that doesn’t get made much anymore. It is a movie that spans years in the early 20th century Sweden, where political upheaval affects one family. The mother preserves, despite having a drunken lout of a husband who can sometimes get violent and has trouble holding a job to support her and their seven children. She wins a camera and starts taking pictures. Slowly, she because a real artist with that camera, and her love for that camera gets her through all the tough times.

Troell is one of the best filmmakers to ever come out of Sweden - trailing behind Ingmar Bergman and few others. He is still probably best known for his twin immigrant epics - The Emigrants and The New Land - about a Swedish family who move to America. Everlasting Moments is similar in that it concentrates on one family through many years.

Maria Larrson (Maria Heiskanen) is married to Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt), and there is love there even if there seems to be days, weeks even months where it doesn’t really show up. He works on the docks in Sweden until the communists start making trouble. They want to go on strike to win better terms for themselves, and Sigfrid goes along. With all the spare time on his hands, he starts drinking more and more, and begins an affair. Maria is not stupid, and knows what is going on, but she doesn’t really have time to deal with it. At this point, they have five kids, all of whom have their own dreams. Sigfrid wants the oldest ones to go to work, but they dream of studying. Despite their money problems, Maria does everything she can to try and make them happen.

Maria is one of those women who keeps her head down and does work, takes care of the family and never complains about anything. She never takes time for herself. During one of their many bouts of poverty, she takes a camera she won years ago and never used to the camera shop to see what she can get for it. The photo shop attendant, Sebastian (Jesper Christensen), takes an immediate liking to her. He encourages her to use the camera, and helps her out by giving her all the chemicals and paper she needs to have her own dark room. Their relationship, although it never becomes sexual, goes on for years and is as much of an affair than what Sigfrid has.

Everlasting Moments is a quiet movie. It is about nothing less than life and its infinite, never ending struggle, and how Maria is stuck with her lot in life, even if it isn’t what she really wants. She does not hate Sigfird, at least not at all times, but she doesn’t want to be with him. But this is a time when women could not just pack up and leave their husbands. She sacrifices everything for her family, only holding unto photography to get her through her life. Everlasting Moments is a film full of moments - good moments, bad moments, all kinds of moments that make up life.

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