Thelma Movie Review
Thelma is a coming-of-age story where the director said fuck it, let’s make it a psychological thriller where the main character has super powers. The movie is now Norway’s official submission for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and deservedly so.
Director and co-writer Joachim Trier has assembled a movie about a shy girl from a small town who moves to Oslo to attend university and begins to realize that she is a lesbian. However, her attempts at romance are thwarted by increasingly violent seizures and the emergence of certain abilities that have dangerous ramifications.
Again, your typical coming-of-age lesbian story.
The movie works in spite of itself thanks to the careful direction by Trier, who treats the material seriously and with class. Thelma could have been a horror-thriller where the main character just happens to be a lesbian—but instead, Trier has taken an emotionally complex and consistently thrilling approach to what would otherwise be pretty standard dramatic fare. There’s a reason the movie could be up for an Oscar in the coming months.
Eili Harboe is excellent as the title character, but it’s Trier’s direction that somehow, inexplicably, makes Thelma work. Masterfully crafted, oozing with atmosphere and thumping with a pulsing score by Ola Fløttum, Thelma is a gripping thriller through and through.
If anything, its biggest flaw is that it leaves you wanting more – it’s terrific that Trier holds back the supernatural aspects to keep the film grounded, yet he arguably holds back too much, offering more of a tease than anything else.
Nonetheless, Thelma is a satisfyingly original and emotionally complex drama-thriller that deserves to be seen.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.