TIFF 2017 Review: Thelma
Norwegian director and writer, Joachim Trier, is no stranger to Canada’s largest Film Festival, premiering his features Reprise, Oslo August 31st, and Louder Than Bombs in previous years. This time around he brings the quiet sci-fi thriller Thelma to the festival, about a young girl’s move from her rural home to Oslo where she studies and begins to come into her own, although what she soon discovers about herself may be more than she can handle. The titular character of Thelma (Eili Harboe), falls in with her fellow classmate Anja (Okay Kaya), but comes to realize that her emotions act as the trigger for unexplainable, fantastical thing to occur.
The chilling and mysterious Norwegian backdrop, as well as the entire main cast truly serve to strengthen the film, but Eili Harboe in particular shines as Thelma, bringing an understated, innocent quality to a character who is pretty much a deer in headlights when it comes to everything outside of her small-town home. Her parents, Unni and Trond, are particularly controlling and manipulative of their daughter, leading one to question whether they know about her dark abilities. The heart of the film though is perhaps simply about a girl breaking free of her confines to discover who she truly is. Ultimately, what she must decide is whether or not to embrace her supernatural abilities or stifle them in fear of being out of control.