SAMI BLOOD — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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sami blood 4When a film transports you to a society you never knew existed, it can prove magically transcendent while incredibly moving. Add an adolescent female discovering what she is capable of and you have me hooked. That happened last year with The Eagle Huntress, a documentary about a Mongolian girl’s singular feats with her regal bird of prey. And it happens again in a far different arena with the 14-year-old female Laplander who is the focus of Sami Blood, a Swedish coming-of-age drama handled with an impressive delicacy of purpose by first-time filmmaker Amanda Kernell.

Bookended with a contemporary tale is the central story set in the 1930s of Elle-Marja, the child of indigenous reindeer breeders whose father has just died. When she and her younger sister are sent away to a Sami-only school, they are subjected to ugly prejudicial assumptions based on their race.

Such demeaning treatment causes Elle-Marja – who changes her name to Christina — to reject her heritage and run off to the big city where first love, education and potential opportunities await.

Few Hollywood portraits of adolescent rebellion would dare to touch upon the complexities that Kernell captures with a tenderness that eschews easy sentiment. And few young actresses could provide the depth and shades of emotion that Lene Cecilia Sparrok (who could be Elizabeth Olsen’s double but with added cheekbone action) imparts to her role.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sami Blood is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week (#MOTW) for June 2 – 9, 2017.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.