Hope

Hope

The spirit of Ingmar Bergman animates this intense, finely calibrated psychological drama. Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) lives with an older man, 59-year-old Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård), and a handful of kids from his previous marriage, as well as their own. Christmas is approaching, and it’s a year since Anja emerged from a run-in with cancer. But she’s suffering from headaches and losing her vision. Tests confirm the worst: a brain tumor that’s operable, but ultimately not something she will survive. The best hope is for months, not weeks. But the film’s true focus is less on Anja’s physical struggle and instead hones in on her rocky relationship with Tomas, which is underscored with resentment and doubt. In a panic, he proposes marriage before the year is out…

This is - unapologetically - a serious-minded film, but utterly engrossing and authentic in its unsentimental study of human behaviour under the ultimate duress. Norwegian actress Hovig goes toe to toe with the always excellent Skarsgård; this sensitive and penetrating movie offers a master class in acting.

Available to stream on VIFF Connect starting Dec 24 and opening Dec 27 at the VIFF Centre http://goviff.org/best-of-2021-hope.