Swedish master Jan Troell returns with a stirringly photographed period piece that couldn't feel further from sepia-toned.
His country's official foreign-language Oscar submission (Troell was previously nominated for 1973's "The Emigrants"), "Everlasting Moments" is a beautifully-performed, highly personal film that condenses an epic scope into a series of singularly poignant images.
Picked up for North American distribution by IFC Films following a Troell retrospective a Telluride, the Danish-Swedish co-production packs an unexpected immediacy that should resonate with art-house audiences.
Based on the hard-scrabble life of Troell's wife's grandmother, the film is set at the turn of the previous century, where Maria Larsson (the wonderful Maria Heiskanen) struggles to get by as the mother of (eventually) seven children and the wife of a drunken, abusive, carousing laborer (Mikael Persbrandt).
She ultimately finds emotional refuge in the form of a Contessa camera she had won years earlier in a lottery, and encouragement from the sympathetic proprietor of the local photographic studio (Jesper Christensen), who convinces her that "not everyone is endowed with the gift of seeing."
Fortunately Troell and cinematographer Mischa Gavrjusjov are among the uniquely gifted, delivering an affecting film that manages to find glimmers of beauty the in the encroaching bleakness, and coaxing richly dimensional performances which, like Maria's photographs, transcend the conventionally black and white.
Production companies: Final Cut Prods./Motlys. Cast: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen; Director: Jan Troell; Screenwriters: Niklas Radstrom, Jan Troell, Agneta Ulfsater Troell; Producer: Thomas Stenderup; Director of photography: Mischa Gavrjusjov; Production designer: Peter Bavman; Music: Matti Bye; Editor: Niels Pagh Andersen; Rating: Not yet rated, 125 minutes. Sales agent: TrustNordisk