This horror-tinged coming-of-age tale is given a fevered, magical realist slant by Norwegian director Joachim Trier
There’s a scene in Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s tense, slow-burning thriller that takes place in an opera house, with two girls sitting next to each other in a packed auditorium. The paranoid score swells, and one girl’s hand slowly, deliberately begins to graze her friend’s thigh. What begins as a tiny frisson blooms into something so fevered that the chandelier hanging above them begins to swing, Brian de Palma-style. As the erotic tension mounts, you can almost taste the electricity between them. The girls are students Thelma and Anja (Eili Harboe and Kaya Wilkins), studying at university in Oslo, new friends exploring the magnetic current that flows between them. But for the shy, devout Thelma, this overwhelming new connection is heavy with shame. And so she leaves, returning to her villainously smothering parents on Norway’s snowy west coast.
The teenage traps of repression and loneliness are explored here through genre – the spooky-movie sweet spot where body horror meets erotic thriller. The film parallels Thelma’s sexual awakening with the onset of violent, paroxysmal attacks, seizures with no discernible cause. These fits suggest supernatural possession, female hysteria, or perhaps even telekinetic powers depending on how you want to read it, though Trier doubles down on biblical symbolism, interspersing the film with magical realist images of birds, snakes, silvery herrings and wriggling caterpillars that give the film a fairytale edge. In one maybe-real scene, Thelma is trapped beneath the surface of a swimming pool; in another a racy fantasy involves being choked by a snake while a hand slips into her underwear. Really, Thelma is a modern look at witchcraft, and an attempt to solve the mystery of whether she will choose to be a good witch or a bad one.
Christmas Lecture: All I want for Christmas…
A free festive lecture - Storyhouse on Weds 5th December (at 3pm)
A Christmas lecture with Dr Pamela Barnes
What is Christmas all about?
This lecture will explore the role Christmas movies past and present have had in affecting the popular consensus of Christmas.
Dr Pamela Barnes is a creative practitioner for stage and screen with speciality subjects in directing, applied theatre and acting. She is an experienced director and producer within theatre, musical theatre and film-making and won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent award in 2013.
I’ve bought a ticket to see the film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ tonight. My wife said that I can’t go....I said Don’t Stop Me Now!!!