Thelma (Eili Harboe) has exhibited strange psychokinetic powers since an early age but her controlling parents have kept it under wraps. Now, she is in college and away from that control and stops taking the meds given by her father. She is attracted to her friend, Anja (Kaya Wilkins), and this passion unleashes her untapped power to a terrible end in “Thelma.”
This is a case, to me, where the story is better than the execution of that story. The strong and obvious link to the horror classic, “Carrie (1976),” will dominate the thoughts of the viewer familiar with the Stephen King novel-turned-movie. “Thelma” is a variation on the teen coming of age story as puberty unleashes the terrible psychic powers caused by bad parenting.
It is hard to call Joachim Trier’s latest tome a “horror” story, per se. It is more about the budding of teenage emotions away from the clutching control of manipulative, domineering parents. Thelma, because of her dangerous power - exhibited early in the film with young Thelma dealing with a squalling baby brother - has been overmedicated by her physician father.
Home schooled her entire life, Thelma is of university age and mom and dad reluctantly let her go. The new-found freedom causes the young woman to stop her meds. This is not a good thing when, sitting close beside pretty Anja, she has a seizure and unleashes her untapped psychic abilities. It does not go well for Anja.
The hybrid story delves more into teen angst and emotion with the supernatural element a metaphor for erupting hormones. I am not sure of the audience “Thelma” is aimed at but the inherent “horror” story will be the draw, I give it a C+.
Writer/director Joachim Trier made a truly great film back in 2011 with his "Oslo, August 31," setting his audiences up for disappointment each time he fails to scale those heights. So it is with "Thelma," a stunningly crafted piece of work but also a failure of new ideas. This "Carrie"-esque tale of psychokinesis sprung from religious oppression begins with imagery right out of Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" as the young Thelma unsettles her parents (and us) with her reaction to her new baby brother. The older Thelma (Eili Harboe, "The Wave") suffers convulsions when her thoughts stray outside religious boundaries, her attraction to Anja (Kaya Wilkins) causing great stress. Thelma has a creepy parental bond with her creationist parents Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen, "Happy, Happy") and Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, "Blind"), but Anja's pull is so strong it almost literally brings the house down during a ballet performance, one which Trier stages like Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" climax. "Thelma" is a gorgeous film with stunningly dark imagery, but it follows too many other movies instead of its own path.
Home | Reviews and Ratings Archive | Top 10 | Video | Crew | Article | Links
Reeling has been chosen as a Movie Review Query Engine Top Critic.