SONGS OF THE EARTH – Review by Liz Braun

In sight and sound, Songs of Earth is remarkable. Filmmaker Mrgreth Olin makes it clear in a prologue that her film is a love letter to her parents and ancestors and to the land they love so much. But the film is also a gentle reminder that all things must pass. Given that her parents are no longer young, her father’s comments on time, grief and the inevitability of generations following one another set the tone for what follows. The film is not bittersweet, exactly, but it is unusually affecting, and perhaps more so for any viewer who is likewise no longer young.

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THE INNOCENTS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The film’s very title is less a statement of fact, then, than an active provocation. The widespread, often automatic fetishization of children as these pure vessels of innocence and purity is placed under Vogt’s cinematic microscope with extraordinary effect. Disturbing, intelligent and held together by a young cast of jaw-droppingly talented actors, The Innocents is a hard film to shake, but at its core one drenched in a spirit of respect for children and their autonomy that is far too rare.

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THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD – Review by Diane Carson

Joachim Trier’s new film has the intriguing, tantalizing title of The Worst Person in the World. Surprisingly, that person is not a psychopath or an abusive victimizer but Julie, almost thirty years old, struggling erratically to find her way in today’s Oslo, trying out sequential career paths while with boyfriend Aksel who creates the underground comic called Bobcat.

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THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD – Review by Susan Granger

This turgid romantic melodrama from Norway became one of the top contenders for Best International Feature of 2021 – after Vanity Fair and The Atlantic declared it the Best Movie of the Year. To say capricious twentysomething Julie (Renate Reinsve) is confused is an understatement. Divided into 12 tedious chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue, her story begins as she’s impetuously quitting medical school because she finds it too much like carpentry.

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Maria Sødahl on HOPE, Survival and Filmmaking – Loren King interviews

With her stunning drama Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sødahl artfully uses a woman’s cancer diagnosis as the portal though which she examines nothing less than life, loss, marriage and mortality. Hope is deeply personal: Sødahl’s own cancer diagnosis forced her to take a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking after her acclaimed debut, Limbo, set in 1970s Trinidad. About four years ago, as Sødahl found herself ready to write again, her life-altering experience was something she simply could not avoid exploring in a script.

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HOPE – Review by Diane Carson

Norwegian director Maria Sødahl’s autobiographical film Hope sounds, at first glance, potentially off-putting. Instead, embrace this jewel. Anja Richter, a middle-aged dance choreographer, returns to Oslo from a successful performance in Amsterdam, pleased with reviews. But something feels off, just not right. Anja’s dizzy and has trouble seeing clearly even with her glasses. An MRI will confirm her suspicion.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 16, 2021: HOPE

Maria Sodhal follows up 2010’s Limbo with another quiet yet powerful exploration of relationships under pressure; in this case, a shocking cancer diagnosis. Andrea Braein Hovig and Stellan Skarsgaard put in sterling performances as the long-term couple whose stale relationship is shaken up by the terminal illness. Writer/director at Sodhal – who drew on her own experiences – eschews overwrought melodrama and obvious emotional cues in favour of deeply felt observation, and delivers a film of raw realism and genuine humanity.

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HOPE – Review by Loren King

It takes remarkable insight and confidence to create a devastating portrait of a marriage inside a film about a woman facing her own mortality. That’s what writer/director Maria Sødahl does with searing Hope, Norway’s entry for this year’s Best International Feature Film Oscar. The film is so specific in its truthfulness that it isn’t a surprise to learn that it’s based on Sødahl’s own experience of a terminal cancer diagnosis that led to a nine-year hiatus from filmmaking. Of course, personal experience doesn’t always translate into art but in this case, it does.

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HOPE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Norwegian Oscar submission Hope (original title Håp) is a relationship movie about messy, committed love. Though the film is centered on someone struggling with cancer, writer/director Maria Sødahl doesn’t create a shiny, Hollywood ‘cancer film’. She reveals many aspects of what it’s like to face mortality, from the perspective of a woman and mother, as well as from those standing by, like the children and the partner who love her, and does so with such truth, that the film will resonate with a wide variety of viewers. The film will also resonate with most who are in or have had long term relationships, which often involve complications, resentments, and the experience of repeatedly falling out of and back into love.

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HOPE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

It takes some cinematic guts for a filmmaker to base a movie on their own harrowing encounter with a terminal cancer diagnosis that eventually led to a nine-year hiatus from their craft. With Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sodahl doesn’t just make a comeback, but she also delivers a no-holds-barred accounting of a relationship of an unmarried couple with six children of various ages between them whose romantic inclinations have grown stale as the pair focus on their own creative pursuits.

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