Movie / Culture

Distant and yet brutal Thelma

Cold-blooded erotic horror full of lesbian intimity and religious symbolism can undoubtedly be considered a film event of this autumn. Thelma screams for attention from the very beginning; the classic whistling scene, when dad takes a son to first hunting to shape his future life, changes into an image when the father points the rifle – instead of the deer – to his daughter´s head. The man does not shoot, but the confusion and anxiety, that the introductiory scene puts you in, will not let it go for the next few hours.

Norweigan director Joachim Trier and his court co-writer Eskil Vogt are known for their chamber and always precisely directed movies such as Reprise from 2016 or Oslo, 31.August from 2011. Two years ago, Trier´s first English film, Louder Than Bombs, has gained a lukewarm response. With Thelma, the director returns back to his native language and as in the previous works, most of the movie is filmed with carefully constructed atmosphere (and great craft) rather than pointing at exaggerated drama. The amount of stories that take place in Thelma is absolutely unclear. Thelma is a student of first year of the University in Oslo, smart and graceful, but very shy – which is not surprising because of the habit of her deeply faithful and principled parents, who are on the phone with her every few hours, check her timetable, or control her new Facebook friendships. However, Thelma soon gets out of control of her parents, and starts to enjoy (or rather tolerate) her college life in a very special way. With growing panic, she gives a free way to her more and more frequent attacks, that have unexplainable causes. Fearing herself, she observes supernatural phenomenons that surround her and with an uncontrollable sexual frustration she falls in love with an appealing, carefree Anja, with whom she begins to experience a peculiary glamorous romance, culminating in an erotic scene in the Norwegian opera. Thelma basically moves from a movie about heavy teen age to some horror genre, religious, perhaps witchcraft, all with a horrible distance and cold calmness, that is mainly due to the sensitive acting of the two main protagonists. The ambiguous and highly symbolic second half of the movie can either be breathtaking or annoying, but certainly it opens a space for discussion and offer the possibility that horror movies do not always end up bad.

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