Everlasting Moments

Where, oh where, is a good clichéd plot twist when you need one?

Actually, that lack creates the power behind this sincerely felt domestic drama that looks at a Swedish family in the early 1900s. In "Maria Larssons eviga ogonblick" there are no easy outs, no magic solutions, no happily ever afters. Instead we become deeply invested in the life and times of these folks, particularly the wife and mother, subtly played by Maria Heiskanen. According to a voiceover, her character had won a camera at a fair and her date said it belonged to him because he bought the ticket. She told him the only way he can have the camera is to marry her. So he did.

Seven children later, he still has her (and the camera) but the effect the camera has had on her and her own sense of identity is profound.

This camera motif seems to pervade the award-winning cinematography for the entire film. Each scene is beautifully framed and is lovingly lit with an authentic, sepia-toned quality. The sense of real life for this struggling couple and their ever-growing family is fascinating: the rooms in their home are realistically small, their clothes are NOT glamorous, our hard- working heroine has a care-worn look with its own natural beauty.

Theirs is NOT a Disney family: The children get into mischief and fall ill; the hard-working father drinks and philanders; from our contemporary point of view, the mother takes too much abuse, although her maltreat- ment wasn't out of the ordinary for those days. In my opinion, director Jan Troell has flawlessly captured the quality of life in those times.

Even though the film is officially open in the US, it isn't exactly a block- buster, so it may be hard to find until the DVD comes out. The showing I attended was sponsored by the Nordic Heritage Museum and screened at Seattle Center.

This Swedish/Danish (with English captions) movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The cast, film and cinematography won numerous prizes in European film festivals...and deservedly so!