Supernatural Revelations: Our Review of ‘Thelma’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - November 18, 2017
Supernatural Revelations: Our Review of ‘Thelma’

There is something about Thelma, as she enters independence, venturing off to University and living on her own for the first time. She doesn’t quite know it yet, either. But her overprotective and highly conservative family does, as does the audience., That’s because the first time we meet her, she is a youngster, no more than ten, off on a hunting expedition with her father across the frozen Norwegian expanse. When she looks away in one instance, he turns his rifle to the back of her head.

He doesn’t pull the trigger, but the opening sequence is mesmerizing and unnerving, two emotions that will run concurrently and in opposition throughout the film. Thelma (Eili Harboe) is on the verge of adulthood, and her first break from her very cautious, Christian family has her finding unparalleled freedom. And with that comes thoughts.

Though reserved and quiet, Thelma’s eye is caught by Anja (Kaya Wilkins), a more social and curious student, who helps her break out of her mood. But as Thelma starts to emotionally and mentally change her outlook on life, weird things start to happen. She has spells that physically drain her; birds fly in strange formations; weather turn darker and drearier. Her hallucinations are most disturbing, not only in part of the visuals on screen but also because no one is ever quite sure just how fabricated they are.

All of this builds in powerful fashion towards a dramatic, revealing conclusion. But this film, written and directed by Joachim Trier, excels by the control it exerts. Thelma is always and ever the focus: while she develops and uncovers some powers, it’s less about what she has the ability to do, but more about what that means inside her. Her uncontrollable actions speak to hidden feelings and unresolved issues.


At the heart of the film is repression, and what it does when someone uncorks feelings and ideas that have been bottled up for so long. Thelma’s mother and father call frequently, following her school schedule online and wondering who she is spending time with, and for what reasons. She certainly has never had such independence, and having feelings for a young woman, whether or not its romantic or just friendly, is entirely novel.

Thelma is a brutally effective, captivating psychological thriller with a chilling message. Harboe is a stunning figure, both innocent and intense, and holding a dark secret. A blue and gray color palette, an alarming score, and a meaningful story make this Norwegian tale a wondrous one.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.