Synopsis: Thelma, a shy young student, has just left her religious family in a small town on the west coast of Norway to study at a university in Oslo. While at the library one day, she experiences a violent, unexpected seizure. Soon after, she finds herself intensely drawn toward Anja, a beautiful young student who reciprocates Thelma’s powerful attraction. As the semester continues, Thelma becomes increasingly overwhelmed by her intense feelings for Anja – feelings she doesn’t dare acknowledge, even to herself – while at the same time experiencing even more extreme seizures. As it becomes clearer that the seizures are a symptom of inexplicable, often dangerous, supernatural abilities, Thelma is confronted with tragic secrets of her past, and the terrifying implications of her powers.
Thelma is absolutely brilliant, and redefines thrillers by showing it is inhumanity that we should fear. Through the use of religious references and a questioning over the lines between faith” and torture tactics, Thelma rivets as a film. There are suspense films, and then enrapturing ones like, Thelma.
Directed by Joachim Trier, the Norwegian film is categorized as “horror”, but the only true scare to Thelma is religion. Eili Harboe as Thelma is perfect in showing the confining fear that is used as “faith-building” within children and youth. Her extraordinary powers are literally quelled through her father (Henrik Rafaelsen as Trond), and his sincere belief that God made her to be devilish. Of course, when you cannot understand the unknown, you assume it is from “hell”, but should can you treat someone as hellish and then say you are heavenly. This very notion will cross your mind as Thelma grows into her power, and rising rebukes and mysteries ensue from Trond and her haggardly, scheming mother (Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Unni). Harbor plays Thelma with such a magnificent naivety and charm that you want her to push her spiritual and metaphysical capacities to their ultimate manifestation, especially when it comes to her burgeoning love with Kaya Wilkins’ Anja. When Thelma and Anja are together the film’s heart is born, and it goes from mystery thriller to romantic one. The chemistry of these women is unstoppable, and key to Thelma growing as a person/ supernatural being. Moreover, it is the key to breaking away from religion to find freedom.
Now, if you read my site, you know I am a religious/ spiritual human being. Yet, in the same way Jesus called out The Pharisees, nowadays, it feels easy and even urgent for a religious communities to call out their members own, disgraceful usage of their faith for personal benefit. I say this because Thelma is so clearly speared toward religion as a quelling of people’s better and happier versions of themselves. Too often, people use God in condemnation; as if, despite being All-powerful, He truly needs humanity to defend him or tell Him what He he made or should make. The blasphemy of this situation is what leads to Thelma’s parents ignoring, abusing, and under-developing their child until the love of another woman frees her to fire herself. It is a gorgeous concept laced with fascinating, perfectly paced scenes and details. Ultimately, Thelma is 100% excellent, and highly recommendable for an imaginative thriller that shows let God handle his creations, and you handle yourself. Thelma Comes To Cinemas On November 10.