Given veteran Scandinavian filmmaker Jan Troell’s latest is about a woman discovering her natural ability for photography in early 20th century Sweden, it’s wholly appropriate that the film is a masterclass in visual design. This comes as no great surprise, however, when we bear in mind that Troell has long since established his credentials not only as a writer and director but also as a cinematographer and editor. Now in his fifth decade of making films, and almost 80 years of age, Troell’s eye for a great shot is far from failing him. And yet the exquisite visuals come across as icing on the cake, never overwhelming the storytelling with showy stylistics.
Spanning a period of roughly ten years, beginning in 1907, the episodic narrative of this true story-inspired film follows the ups and downs in the marriage of wife and mother of seven Maria (Maria Heisanken) and her handsome but often drunken and abusive dockworker husband Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt). When the dockers go on strike Maria attempts to pawn a camera she won in a lottery but never used. But instead of taking her money the shop’s kindly owner (Jesper Christensen, Mr White in the last two James Bond films) teaches her how to use it, and gradually Maria finds she has a skill that gives life a whole new meaning.
Slow-paced, solidly performed and handsomely mounted, Everlasting Moments harks back to the painterly style of cinema that came into its own in the 1960s and 70s but which isn’t often seen in these pixellated, digital days.
Selected release from Fri 22 May.