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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Henrik Rafaelsen
Distributor: Thunderbird Releasing
RRP: £15.00


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 26 February 2018

When Thelma goes to university she moves away from her ultraconservative Christian parents. Her new surroundings are both enticing and intimidating, so Thelma leads a solitary life until she meets Anja. Her burgeoning relationship creates an inner turmoil between her desires and upbringing manifesting itself in her growing psychic powers…

Thelma (2017 1 hr, 56 min, 23 sec) is a horror drama, directed by Joachim Trier, who co-wrote the screenplay with Eskil Vogt. The excellent core is by Ola Fløttum. The film was the recipient of seven awards and was nominated for a further twelve.

On a very surface level the film has much in common with Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) as both deal with young women who manifest psychokinetic powers following an internal struggle between their parents ultra conservative views and their own growing sexuality. But that’s as much as the two films share a common DNA.

Thelma is an altogether gentler spirit than Carrie and never once deliberately uses her power to harm. Although she is away at university her parents call her every day, they even know her lecture rota, an intrusion which only makes sense in the last third of the film.

As an audience we understand that there is something wrong in her relationship with her parents, the film opens with Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen) taking a young Thelma out on a hunting trip only to turn the gun on the girl, he means to kill her, for reasons unknown, but cannot make himself do it. The film then moves forward to Thelma (Eili Harboe) as a young woman and her meeting with Anja (Kaya Wilkins), but this image haunts all that follows.

Harboe plays Thelma with an innate shyness, which makes her sympathetic, a sympathy which she retains throughout the story. Trier isn’t trying for the shock tactics which worked so well in de Palma’s movie, rather he goes for the slow burn, allowing both Thelma and the audience to come to the realisation that she holds the potential for great or heinous acts.

Unlike Carrie, whose realisation of her power created an explosion of violence, Thelma is horrified and tries to escape what she is. This theme of the personal damage done when one is not true to their own natures runs through the whole film.

When her powers first appear it externally manifests itself as a fit. Afraid that she may be suffering from epilepsy she goes to her Doctor. A word of warning, this section contains a lot of strobing light as the doctors try to trigger a fit.

The film stays with Thelma and we observe the unfolding drama from her perspective. This allows the mystery to build. Are Thelma's dreams real or not? And why do her parents seem to be in equal amounts both loving and scared?

The Blu-ray disc has audio options for both a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 tracks. Both are Norwegian with burned in English subtitles.

There are a couple of extras on the disc. There is a short, informative interview with Joachim Trier (9 min, 08 sec) as well as a more personal perspective from Eili Harboe (5 min, 51 sec). There is the usual Behind the Scenes (5 min, 53 sec) which consists of six small vignettes. You also get the Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 08 sec) and Available From Joachim Trier (3 min, 53 sec) which consists of trailers for his other films.

Thelma is a much better successor to the original Carrie compared to the 2013 remake. Eili Harboe provides a nuances performance which pulls the whole film together.


Charles Packer

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