Sunday, April 11, 2021

Maria Sødahl's autobiographical movie, HOPE, tracks a woman's life once cancer returns

Written and directed by Maria Sødahl (shown below) -- whose story about an artist struck with cancer this movie actually is -- HOPE might initially seem an odd moniker for the tale of someone who, once her cancer returns, is told that she is both terminal and inoperable. 

Yet hope turns out to be just right, as this exceptional film explores, among many other things, what hope is, when it's appropriate and when it might be misplaced. 

Though Ms Sødahl is a filmmaker -- whose career was cut off for a decade due to her bouts with cancer -- her main character here is a just-now-growing-quite-successful choreographer (played by the fine actress Andrea Bræin Hovig, below, left), whose older partner (Scandinavian stalwart Stellan Skarsgård, below, right) appears to have been more interested in his own career than in anything else. 

Art, career, family, friends, relationships, love, sickness and upcoming death: Just in the first quarter hour of the film, all this is handled with speed, smarts and feeling, without any sentimentality or melodrama, so that Hope proves immediately both bracing and involving. 

The caregivers here -- from doctora to the local pharmacist -- are so concerned and genuinely caring that TrustMovies should think American viewers (those who can read subtitles, at least) will quickly, if they have not already, embrace both socialism and Scandinavian life and culture.

Rather than rely on the usual cliched situations, Sødahl chooses the more oddball and unusual to fill her film and thus makes most of the scenes seem new and refreshing. Neither her heroine nor hero (which Skarsgård's character certainly becomes over time) are depicted as anything approaching perfect. At one point, he calls her "ruthless," and indeed she has become so. But why not? This is her life -- what is left of it, at least.

The three generations on view here are depicted extremely well, and supporting roles are cast and played beautifully by all concerned. Technical aspects of the film are first-rate, too. Regarding everything from its understanding of psychology and personality, family dynamics, and medicine itself, the film excels. Hope is a rich, surprising and moving experience.

In the lead role, Ms Hovig is revelatory, nailing every emotion and nuance so totally and believably that we're with her first to last, while Mr. Skarsgård again proves himself an utter master of the small gesture and expression. He is, as usual and all on his own, a class in the skills of fine acting.

From KimStim, in Norwegian and Swedish with English subtitles, and running 125 minutes, the movie opens this coming Friday, April 16, in theaters all across the country, and will eventually, sooner than later I hope, be available via digital and DVD. For more information on how and where to view the film, click here then scroll down.

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