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Review: Everlasting Moments

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Everlasting Moments. Photo courtesy IFC Films.

With each new large technological advancement, there’s got to be a real sense of wonder among the middle class when they finally get their hands on it. From vehicles to the internet to photographs, each new advancement shapes the world around them into new forms that were probably never thought possible before. But on the bright side, domestic violence never changes!

Basically, these two themes sum up Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments, one of this year’s Golden Globe nominees for Best Foreign Language Film (I’ll save you the suspense, it lost to Waltz With Bashir). As the 1900’s blow in the doors of the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately 1800’s, Maria Larsson discovers an old camera she won in a raffle, and is quickly enamored with the technology, and her ability to manipulate it. Meanwhile, on the homefront, she’s little more than a doormat and punching bag for her husband Sigfried. As the kids keep a’coming, Maria continues to try to balance her love of photography with her crippling family life. Not exactly a smile-a-minute scene (except this one part where she has a row with Sigfried while donning a Charlie Chaplain stache - awesome). Everlasting Moments is a quiet meditation on the struggles of a single person to effectively handle their passions in the face of social and personal strife and uncertainty.

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As Everlasting Moments continues, Maria becomes more desperate to stand on one side or the other, but instead continuously returns to her womanizing and abusive husband only to be unable to pawn the camera she loves so much. Ultimately, a balance must be struck and cords must be severed for Maria to succeed. And when her mentor and friend (lovingly known as Piff Paff Puff for the camera sounds made as he shows her the ropes) decides to leave the street hustle game that is early 20th century photography, Maria is forced to either get stronger in her convictions, or watch them fade away.

Everlasting Moments is a decent film that is done a great service with the aid of stunning visuals, courtesy of longtime foreign filmmaker Jan Troell. The point of view of the story is perhaps the most askew portion of the film, as it is narrated by Maria’s daughter, who only has a very minor role to play. And this is not Benjy from The Sound and the Fury, wherein the character knows more than you think simply by being always around and forgotten. Rather, the narration jumps in to either talk about personal events in her life that ultimately don’t bear fruit, or overarching timely tidbits. Thankfully, the majority of the film is left to be dissected by the actors, who are more than capable to portray such nuanced moments as required by the film. There are moments that do become too bogged down and repetitive (I mean, how many times CAN you hit a woman before she leaves?????!), but these are frequently saved by beautiful imagery that Troell creates.

Everlasting Moments was definitely a worthy Scandinavian representative in the Best Foreign Language Film Golden Globes category, but was also given proper due in losing to Waltz With Bashir. Normal moviegoers may find this film a bit tedious at parts, and perhaps a little long, but should also leave satisfied that foreign filmmaking is as strong as ever. Not like Hulk strong, but definitely Lou Ferrigno strong.

Everlasting Moments is currently playing at your local Laemmle's in Encino or Pasadena, as well as the Rancho Niguel 8.