Editors' pick

Everlasting Moments

Everlasting Moments movie poster
MPAA rating: NR
Genre: Drama, Foreign
In 1900s Sweden a working-class woman (Maria Heiskanen) gains new perspective after winning a camera in a lottery. The decision to keep the camera changes the course of her life forever.
Starring: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen
Director: Jan Troell
Running time: 2:11

Editorial Review

Freedom, of course, is the double helix of American movies. Give us heroes who fight for it till the final reel or we're deeply outraged. So what are we to make of a movie in which the heroine seems to resist every opportunity to liberate herself?

The answer comes subtly but rewardingly in "Everlasting Moments," Jan Troell's epic family melodrama set in early-20th-century Sweden. Based on a true story, the movie centers on a Finnish-born wife and mother whose serendipitous possession of a camera leads to her own quest for personal autonomy.

Maria Larsson (a powerful Maria Heiskanen) never leaves her abusive, womanizing husband, even when he goes to jail. And she's forced to raise seven children in financial misery. When she's behind that Contessa camera, however, she finds a certain freedom. She realizes the lens gives her the power to elevate humanity.

A monster when he's drunk, her husband, Sigge, is also a playful charmer in sober moments, arms outstretched for all his children. Even in his darkest acts, he's a terrified, intimidated animal. Our reflexive hatred of him is tempered with a sort of pity. And Maria's climactic problem -- should she leave Sigge for the genial camera store proprietor (Jesper Christensen)? -- is not as clear-cut as we'd like to think.

There's another satisfying benefit to "Everlasting Moments." It's gloriously absent of the hyper-speed anxiety that passes for storytelling on our multiplex screens.

One poetic moment comes most immediately to mind: Spiriting her children away from a drunken Sigge, Maria leads her brood through fog and swirling snow. Caught in the headlight glare of a street car, mother and children are rendered momentarily in silhouette: an archetypal portrait of a family in distress, and an everlasting moment, if you will.

-- Desson Thomson (March 27, 2009)

Contains profanity, sexual material, domestic battery and rape. In Swedish with English subtitles.