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Ten Word or Less Review – Swedes, photography, oppressive poverty.  It’s a winner!

This is an excellent drama set during the early part of the 19th century about a Swedish family dealing with their impoverished existence.  Told from the point of view of the oldest daughter, “Everlasting Moments” traces the family trials that rip and tear at the family fabric, largely being held together by an unbreakable mother.  Though father can always hold down a job because of his abundant strength, he routinely falls off the wagon and becomes an unbearable and abusive lout.  It’s sort of a Swedish version of “Angela’s Ashes.”

The saintly, put upon mother is able to find a form of emotional escape and spiritual uplift through photography, a rare hobby and highly skilled trade in 1907.  The camera itself is the reason the mother and father married to begin with, or at least it’s jokingly inferred.  She’s blessed with a natural eye for the craft but her artistic ability, and the admiration from others that it brings, infuriates her husband and inflames his ignorant and brutish impulses.  His abusiveness grows with time but the mother’s old world sense of marital obligation prevents her from abandoning him, despite all instincts to do so.

Calling the movie Bergmanesque is an easy comparison but none the less a correct one.  It’s very reminiscent of Bergman’s later life works, though maybe several steps removed from his sense of spiritual dourness.  It feels especially close in essence to Bergman’s epic masterpiece “Fanny & Alexander.”  Though it’s downbeat and often reflects the ugly reality of the lives its capturing, it’s never oppressive or a chore to sit through.  There’s a sensitivity to it which maintains an even emotional flow, never pouring too much misery on the viewer at once, and often remembering to deal with hard human suffering with a delicate and sensitive approach.  It never feels exploitative or abusive.

“Everlasting Moments” reminds us of the old fashioned merits of two art forms drastically changed by the 21st century.  Not only is it a shining example of a simpler, more resonant form of film storytelling, it reminds the audience that photography used to be something more than just a phone app.  It was something rare and special and those who used it captured fleeting moments of life now long passed.  “Moments” may not seem like a movie for all audiences, but I’m willing to bet most people, if they can get over it being in Swedish, will find themselves engrossed by it.


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