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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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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THE PAINTED BIRD – Review by Susan Granger

Having caused not only controversy but massive ‘walk-outs’ during film festivals, Czech filmmaker Vaclav Marhoul’s three-hour, black-and-white adaptation of Jerzy Kosinski’s grim, gruesome autobiographical novel is an epic revelation of extreme cruelty and brutality during World War II.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, April 27-May 3: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Opening May 1, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the latest instalment in the superhero franchise from writer/director Joss Whedon. This time round, the Avengers must team up to defeat the villainous Utron (voiced by James Spader). Read on…

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