Thelma (aka Telma) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Thelma: what a premise for a film. Unfortunately however, the stellar premise doesn’t go anywhere and instead patters in the same place across the whole duration of the film. That isn’t to say that I didn’t got Goosebumps during some of the more intense scenes in Thelma (which I did); but, to mark a movie better than good you’d have to have a special, for a lack of a better word conclusion that ties all loose ends and leaves you with that cathartic feeling of something very profound taking place. Thelma has none of that, and this is precisely why it’s just a very good film – instead of it being an excellent one.
Make no mistake: Thelma by director Joachim Trier is a very competently made film, which also features a rock-solid premise and stellar acting to go alongside its weirdly (almost morbidly) curious nature. And so, Thelma is a story about Thelma (Eili Harboe), a girl who seems to possess some kind of latent psychokinetic abilities which allow her to manipulate the world by sheer will. Here, an unavoidable comparison with Stephen King’s Carrie should be made, albeit Carrie has telekinetic abilities, but again the line is blurred as to which powers are being manifested and how; the similarities however are that both of these girls are suppressing their true natures in order to confront to societal norms and ultimately their parents’ wishes.
To this extent, Thelma can be read as a yield of help against these societal restrictions and allowing to let one-self’s true nature to roam freely in the world. Therefore, Thelma’s desire to be with Anja (Kaya Wilkins) goes against the principles as taught by her conservative parents, her father Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen), and mother Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), as well as the Christian upbringing she was subjected to while at home (which as the majority of her childhood up to the end of her high-school years). And, when Thelma goes to college, all her hidden wishes start to come true, but not without a price.
If you entirely disregard that analogy, then you’re ultimately ending up with a girl with supernatural abilities – a superhero if you will – who only now begins to discover her abilities and utilizes them to her own gain. It’s either or, with every side of this dichotomy offering a promising start with a disappointingly empty end. If only they’ve looked more into the screenplay and worked it so that Thelma’s doings were part of a bigger conflict (internal and external both work). Instead, what we get is an entire premise that stretches all throughout the duration of the film without any real wrap.
With all of that being said, Thelma is still better than 95% of everything that Hollywood can conjure up these days, so if you have the chance, I can’t stress enough to see this film at least once.