Running time:126 minutes
Director:Maria Sødahl
Release date:00 0000

Mulder's Review

After screening at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2019 and releasing in November 2019 in Norway, the third film written and directed by Maria Sødahl is set for a limited theatrical release in the U.S. beginning April 16. We had the chance to check it out at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) last week and were won over by this harrowing drama. After De 7 dødssyndene (2000) and Limbo (2010), Maria Sødahl is not only a great screenwriter but also a director.

Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) lives with Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) in a large family with biological children and stepchildren. For several years, the two adults have grown up independently of each other, with creative jobs in parallel worlds. When Anja is diagnosed with terminal cancer, their modern life falls apart and exposes a neglected love. Alone with her grief and fears, Anja realizes she needs Tomas' help and full support. This is their only chance. How will their children find strength once she is gone, if their parents are unable to weather the storm together? Anja and Tomas will have to take a crash course in trusting each other, and ultimately struggle together to cope with this unexpected and untimely death. As they get to know each other again, they unconsciously become the main characters in a love story, finally learning to truly love each other after a long life together.

Hope, however, seems to be a poor illustration of this story in which a woman must confront the inexorable and her great departure. She must also relearn to fall in love with her husband and prepare her children to live without her in the dark days ahead. This perfectly told story highlights the themes of sacrifice and above all of defining one's real priorities in life between her demanding job and her family.

The action takes place during the week of Christmas and New Year's Eve and shows the evolution of a couple facing the inexorable between the moment Anja receives her diagnosis and a surgical operation to remove the tumor found, Anja's family will have to face this devastating news and especially try to stay together and prepare for the inexorable. Maria Sødahl's rather academic direction suits this story perfectly and thus imposes itself as a universal story. The audience will wonder what they would do if this happened to them. Hope illustrates with real care the feelings of these main characters, their deepest fears and losing a person who is essential to their balance. In spite of the cold aspect of the film and the almost clinical aspect of certain scenes, there is at times a little humor to avoid falling into a pathological story without any glimmer of hope.

It is easy to understand that this film is more intended for an adult audience as it is so far from the current Hollywood model. Relying on the remarkable interpretation of Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård, Hope is a film to be discovered and marked. Certain images of this film will remain in our memories long after we have seen it.

Written and directed by Maria Sødahl
Produced by Thomas Robsahm
Starring Andrea Bræin Hovig, Stellan Skarsgård, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, Alfred Vatne, Steinar Klouman Hallert, Daniel Storm Forthun Sandbye, Eirik Hallert
Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro
Edited by Christian Siebenherz
Production companies : Motlys
Release date : November 22, 2016 (Norway), September 7, 2019 (TIFF), April 16, 2021 (USA)
Running time : 126 minutes

Seen on April 04, 2021 (SBIFF)

Mulder's Mark: