Koch on Film


“Everlasting Moments” (+)

In Swedish, with English subtitles

The film, which begins before World War I, tells the story of a poor family in Sweden.  As I watched it, I thought about “East of Eden” — the wonderful epic starring James Dean.

Finish immigrant Maria (Maria Heiskanen) is married to a Swede, Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt).  Sigge has constant affairs and is often drunk, during which time he physically abuses her.  The couple has six children. The youngest was conceived after Sigge raped Maria in a drunken frenzy, for which he went to jail.  Maria is extraordinary in her desire to care for her children and preserve her marriage.  Her situation is similar to that of many women living with abusive husbands.  They take their marital oath of “till death do us part” seriously, and for them divorce is not an option.

Maria finds some relief in photography, using a camera that she won in a contest years ago.  She develops a friendship with a photographer, Pedersen (Jesper Christensen), who owns a local photography shop that she occasionally visits.  Their attraction to one another is unrequited, except for one exquisite kiss.

As I watched the drama unfold, I thought of the author Willa Cather, whose books I read in high school.  She wrote about the character and inner strengths of the Scandinavian immigrants who settled on the Great Plains of this country.  I recognized those characteristics in the Scandinavians depicted in this movie, all wonderfully portrayed by the entire cast.

PT said:  “This is a wonderful film about a woman who is strong enough to survive anything – poverty, an alcoholic husband, physical abuse – and even find beauty through her camera lens.  Maria is a mother earth kind of figure who comforts her neighbors, protects her children, and remains with a husband who is physically strong but morally weak.  What a woman!”

“Goodbye Solo” (-)

It happened again.  I decided to see a film based on another critic’s very positive review.  In his New York Times analysis, A.O. Scott wrote that Ramin Bahrani’s third picture is “moving and mysterious, and you may find yourself pondering its implications for a long time after the film’s simple and haunting final images have faded.”  The picture is a dog.

The main character is Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), a Senegalese livery driver in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  He picks up an older man, William (Red West), at a hotel and drives him to a movie theater.  During their chat along the way, William offers Solo $1,000 to drive him to a distant mountaintop in Blowing Rock National Park.  Although Solo worries that William is contemplating suicide, he drives him to the requested location.  Accompanying them in the car is Solo’s stepdaughter, Alex (Diana Franco Galindo).

That’s the story.  I won’t comment on whether or not there is a suicide, but I will say that I lost interest in the infantile script very early on.  A.O. Scott mentioned Solo’s “incandescent smile” and his “affectionate teasing” with his passengers.  Frankly, that’s all there is to comment on about the performance of anyone in the film.  What was Scott thinking?  Beats me.