Thelma Review

Thelma

The name Thelma has an interesting history when transferred to characters screen, both big and small.

There’s cinema’s most famous female pairing, Thelma and Louise – which I confess I’ve never seen. 

And who can forget the bespectacled, orange jumper wearing teen detective who accompanied Scooby-doo on all his daring adventures?

No-one with a 6-year-old nephew who loves talking canines, that’s for sure

I don’t think it’s a mystery to declare what team either of these Thelma’s batted for, and Joachim Trier’s brilliant new film Thelma has added another incarnation to this cinematic sapphic trend.

We begin with an innocent little girl out on a hunting trip with her father in the icy plains of some Scandinavian country.

It appears as though they’re looking to kill a less than sacred deer, which would be traumatic enough for any child to see.

But when the father starts to aim the gun at his own daughter instead, you swiftly realise this is no ordinary family hunt.

Fast forward a decade or so and we’re introduced to a beautiful young woman, away at college and from her parents for the first time.

This is Thelma, and judging from the phone calls she has with her overprotective mother, she’s about ready to cut loose her parental strings and start becoming the person she yearns to be.

Raised as a strict catholic by her overbearing parents, Thelma can seem like a fish out of water amongst her fellow students who like nothing more than to experiment with drugs and each other. 

But then Thelma isn’t quite like everyone else, which is made shockingly clear when she has a fit whilst studying in the library. 

On the plus side, this introduces Thelma to Anja, who seems rather concerned for her new friend’s wellbeing.

Anja’s not the only one who’s worried, so Thelma takes herself off to a doctor to find out what’s wrong with her.

What she discovers leads Thelma down a dangerous path of self discovery, that has dangerous consequences for everyone close to her.

Thelma is the new film from Norwegian director Joachim Trier, the man behind the excellent Oslo, 31 August.

And what Trier’s created here might just be even better.

With more than a hint of the supernatural about it, Thelma combines the naturalistic storytelling of Trier’s previous films with a new visual flair, no doubt helped by having earned a larger budget.

One scene in particular, while our heroine is watching contemporary dance with some new
friends, is spellbinding to watch.

Another invoking the hallucinogenic qualities of, ah, tobacco is similarly addictive.

Not quite everything adds up at the end, but that doesn’t detract from Thelma’s intriguing package that will stimulate the senses and might just open you up to new possibilities in life.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2017
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