Everlasting Love

Worth Preserving

         
 

01 August 2009| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Slow-moving but eventually absorbing. First thing to consider is that there were no Alcoholics Anonymous programs back in 1907. ’Til death do you part must have been a greater quagmire back then, especially to the dependent wives that had to deal with drunk philandering husbands. Everlasting Moments, a slow-moving but emotionally engaging (Swedish film in English subtitles), is about a working class woman who finds salvation in photography, back when cameras were still a rare device. Without that hobby, her life would have disappeared into meaningless oblivion.

Vows of marriage disintegrate immediately for Maria (Maria Heikanen) and Sigfrid Larsson (Mikael Persbrandt), although it is close to impossible to build sympathy for Sigfrid who is abusive when he drinks. When he is not culprit, he is at least indirectly responsible, as to when he brings a boorish friend home who quarrels in their household that leads to Maria breaking up a fight, only to be knocked callously into a wall as a result. The children watch on helplessly.

Sure, there are tender moments initially before they dissolve. Sigfrid, a dockworker, allows his wife to bathe him and tend to his back problems when he comes home exhausted. Those are the days he doesn’t drink. When a union strike puts Sigfrid out of work it leaves him inexorable time to fool around. British immigrants arrive in town to take over Swede jobs which catalyzes violence and strife within town. Sigfrid, while actually removed, uses the excuse of union revolution involvement to stay out all night.  The family becomes desperate for money.

To make ends meet Maria decides to sell a picture camera that she won by lottery before she married Sigfrid. The background story of the camera informs us that Maria and Sigfrid married because of that camera. She had the winning lottery ticket, he put down the money for the ticket. He said that she could only have the camera if she married him.  Strange how an object can knot two incompatible people in permanent matrimonial fate.

But now we arrive with Maria offering camera shop owner Sebastian Pedersen (Jesper Christensen) to buy her Contessa model camera. Sebastian doesn’t think Maria should let go of such a fine possession. Sebastian instead teaches Maria how to use it. As she develops her talent she decidedly hides it from her husband. Of course, Sigfrid will become fuming jealous when he eventually finds out that Maria is taking lessons from a camera shop owner. Maria must defend herself.

Time passes on and Sigfrid finds work but doesn’t stop his chauvinistic ways. Maria puts her camera down and commits to her usual work in scrubbing floors. Whenever time allows, Maria visits her camera shop friend. Sebastian, equally smitten by her, offers her a job as an assistant, and she waives the opportunity because she is conditioned to believe she is only good for cleaning floors. She teaches her daughters to scrub floors for the rich. The subtle tragedy of the movie is observing this family to survive on menial work and pass on outside opportunities for sake of an institutionalized mindset.

Heiskanen plays Maria with shameful self-pity alternating with wonder – she is a newly rejuvenated woman when she does allow herself to photograph neighbors and shopkeepers for extra money. Maria is at her acme of happiness when she sells her first print photograph to a newspaper. Then she chastises herself for allowing herself for being a photographer at the expense of adhering to her first duty as a mother. This isn’t a sweeping feel-good way to conduct a story, but for its time and place, it is a believable one. Yet, in a very patient way, it’s poignant watching Maria persevere over the years.

The film is directed by the celebrated Jan Troell whose stellar film “The Emigrants” received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director back in 1972. His films are few and far between but typically deal with working class hardships and obscure talents in pastime settings. This film, winner of five Guldbagge Awards (the Swedish Academy Awards) including Best Film, is another highly sensitive effort by Troell that not only makes the mind reconsider but the heart reconsider the mysteries of suppressed passion. Just remember, a patient mind is required.

131 Minutes. Unrated.

PERIOD DRAMA / CEREBRAL / AFTERNOON SELF-REFLECTION MOVIE

Film Cousins: “The Emigrants” (1972); “The Ballad of Little Jo” (1993); “The Wings of the Dove” (1997); “Sweet Land” (2006).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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