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Maria Larssons Everlasting Moments
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Maria Larssons Everlasting Moments – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

In early 1900s Sweden, Maria (Heiskanen) is a miserable mother of an ever-growing brood, struggling to keep her family’s heads above water, while her husband Sigfrid (Persbrandt) – a good person deep down – ends up drinking and womanising when he should be at work.
Sigfrid and his fellow dock-workers are on strike, but they’re not getting anywhere, as British men are being shipped in to do the heavy lifting. This simply fuels their anger – and their alcoholism – and all that goes with it.
Desperate for money, Maria finds an old camera, hidden away, which she decides to sell, or at least pawn. It brings back memories of the happier times with her husband, when she won it in a lottery, but at this point in her life, money is more important than memories.
When she takes the camera into a local photography shop, the Danish owner Sebastian (Christensen), who quickly takes a liking to Maria, persuades her not to part with it, saying he’ll pay her for the camera, but allow her to keep hold of it for the time being.
In the days that follow, Maria learns to use the camera – and develop her own photographs – enabling her to create moments she’ll want to remember, despite the squalid world around her. As Sigfrid descends into alcohol and violence, Maria develops a whole new perspective of the world that makes her life worth living again.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Fittingly for a film about the importance of beautiful images and capturing memorable moments, this film is delightfully shot, but the locations and costumes necessarily render it rather grim.
Thematically, there’s more dark than light, as the faint strands of hope struggle to rear their heads above the sea of misery of early twentieth century Sweden.
The film evocatively presents the discomfort of Maria’s daily attempts to overcome her husband’s alcoholism while a gentle man pays her the respect she never even knew she deserved. But it’s equally effective at illustrating the effects of unemployment on the wider working class community.
There’s not much to raise the spirits in this moving tale, but Maria’s newfound hope is enough to make you stick around and will her to improve her lot.
The three key performances – Maria her husband and her new photographer friend – are all played with empathy and tenderness – even the drunken wife-beater doesn’t come off as bad as he might, with his evident struggle against the bottle raising the possibility that he might eventually overcome his problem and find peace and happiness with Maria.
The emotional story is passionately observed and sensitively told by the director and actors alike, although it’s too slow and slight to appeal to more mainstream audiences.

opens 22nd May 2009

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