Saturday, July 17, 2010

#520: Everlasting Moments

(Jan Troell, 2008)

One of a number of movies released under the Criterion banner thanks to a deal with IFC Films, Everlasting Moments is a movie that swept well under the radar when it was first released in the US, though it was the official selection of Sweden at the Oscars that year (it made the shortlist, but failed to be nominated). It's also a beautiful film, a shade away from truly Great, but the kind of movie that will have an intense emotional impact on a select few.

The film centers around matriarch Maria, her abusive husband, and her fascination with photography in the early 20th century. The movie's title refers to photographs, but it also fits the film  perfectly. There are big plot developments here, like the confrontations between the couple, the first time she picks up the camera, the last moment in the film. But the movie isn't about plot or story, it's about those small moments where Maria's love for her art, the fascination with the merging of technology and life's messy moments, and the beauty of the planet amidst poverty and abuse shine through. Like Le Cercle Rouge (and the two movies don't share much), Everlasting Moments is the kind of film that only an experienced filmmaker seems to be able to pull off. The confidence of the film is as impressive as the effortless way in which it is displayed.

This movie is not the kind of film that's going to make anyone scream "Classic," or make anyone forget the true classics of the collection. But it's the kind of movie, like Summer Hours or Revanche, that can get passed over easily as we push on to the next big, loud film. It's worthwhile to sit Everlasting Moments next to Stagecoach and Red Desert, as Criterion does in their catalog. It's a reminder of the big little things cinema does in peoples' lives, not just because the film is literally about the impact of images reflecting reality, but because our own relationships, our own suffering, our own sense of time and family can be so intertwined with the quiet experiences of characters in the film. Everlasting Moments isn't a great film, maybe, but it is an essential one.

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