Everlasting Moments

Everlasting Moments


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

When life seems to be rushing by at breakneck speed, it can be difficult to set aside two hours to take in a film. Yet in watching a film like this, one can easily become so absorbed that time seems to flow at a different speed altogether. As decades pass in Maria Larsson's life, you'll come to enjoy taking it slowly - and the real pleasure of a film like this is that you can watch it again and again. Like a photograph, it's a piece of life preserved against the ravages of time.

Maria Larsson, like many women at the turn of the last century (and not a few today) experiences time in a cyclical way - every day contains the same routines; every other week her husband Siggi vows to give up drinking forever and then goes back to the bottle; every few months she makes up her mind to leave him, but as the cycle comes around again, she's still in the same place. Yet she is also aware of time passing - it brings her more children she can scarcely afford to feed, it brings more political turmoil in the world around her, and it increases her general sense of malaise. Something is missing. There is something about Maria that doesn't make sense in this limited context. Perhaps it's because, unlike her peers, Maria is learning to see. When, for the first time, she tries taking a picture with the camera she has won in a competition, her vision and understanding of the world changes forever.

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Based on a true story yet possessed of a rare insight that goes far beyond its simple narrative, Everlasting Moments is a beautiful film, daring and original, willing to state its case even if no one is listening. It has a wholly unconventional approach to romance, as Maria is captivated by the attentions of professional photographer Sebastian yet remains bound to Siggi by something much more complex than the fear, financial vulnerability or low self-esteem we are usually encouraged to associate with such relationships.

She's no shrinking violet, and sometimes it's quite possible to feel sorry for Siggi during their arguments, especially as we see how hard his working life can be. Each can be cruel to the other, yet each has a depth of character more than sufficient to explain their mutual attraction, and it's something that can only grow as Maria's discovery leads her to become more and more herself.

Hinging on a deliciously understated performance by Maria Heiskanen, with able support from all involved, this is a film that excels when it comes to the technical qualities, its pristine lighting and acutely judged visuals ably bringing to life Maria's newfound sense, its evocative use of sound often sufficient in itself to convey the dangers of industrial workplaces or the clamour of the busy neighbourhood and the Larssons' crowded flat. Jan Troell's direction is confident, as always, yet brings a freshness to everything, especially as we see it through the eyes of Maria.

Everlasting Moments is one of those moments in cinema that comes along once in a blue moon. It'll charm you, make you laugh and make you think. It's an experience well worth preserving.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2009
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Discovering photography provides an abused woman with a new way of experiencing life.
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Director: Jan Troell

Writer: Niklas Rådström, Jan Troell

Starring: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen, Emil Jensen, Ghita Nørby, Hans Henrik Clemensen, Amanda Ooms

Year: 2008

Runtime: 131 minutes

Country: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany

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