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Restoring a Tarnished Life

MOVIE REVIEW
Everlasting Moments (2008)

Still4
Nille Leander/IFC Films

Sweden apparently hasn’t always been the expedient society in which particleboard furniture and fast fashion are ubiquitous. It’s unfathomable that a century ago – before widespread electricity and the enlightenment by such luminaries as Ingmar Bergman and ABBA – the country was a white-trash wasteland inhabited by deadbeat, wife-beating drunkards who treated their impoverished households as baby farms and kept themselves busy during workers’ strikes by planting bombs and shacking up with mistresses. At the very least this was the case for Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt), the greasy, mustachioed husband of protagonist Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen) in Jan Troell’s Bergmanesque “Everlasting Moments.”

Sweden’s entry in this year’s Academy Awards, this true story is supposedly about Maria discovering her gift for photography after winning a camera in a lottery. But alas, the film doesn’t exactly pan out as the female-empowerment-through-art inspirational tale it purports to be. “Everlasting Moments” dwells heavily on domestic abuse, then later retracts itself by suggesting that the sufferings endured by Maria probably weren’t that bad given that she stuck with Sigfrid when she could have easily walked away and become self-sufficient taking portraits.

Maria’s platonic affair with fellow photographer Pedersen (Jesper Christensen) isn’t one to remember either. In fact, when a film tries to dutifully cram a lifetime into a relatively compact 132 minutes, everything flashes by so fast that you can no longer even keep up with how many children Maria is having. “Everlasting Moments” does appropriately boast luminous cinematography, but it’s far from picture perfect thanks to some glaring continuity errors. Perhaps we’re also a bit too jaded to think that something we can now easily do with our camera phones could possibly have transformed someone’s life in another time.

EVERLASTING MOMENTS

Opens on March 6 in Manhattan.

Directed by Jan Troell; written by Niklas Radstrom, based on a story by Agneta Ulfsater Troell; directors of photography, Mr. Troell and Mischa Gavrjusjov; edited by Niels Pagh Andersen; music by Matti Bye; produced by Thomas Stenderup; released by IFC Films. In Swedish, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 11 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Maria Heiskanen (Maria Larsson), Mikael Persbrandt (Sigfrid Larsson), Jesper Christensen (Pedersen) and Callin Ohrvall (Maja).

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