Today: February 29, 2024


Mainstream cinema is currently in the throws of a love affair with all things superhero. In an era when there is political turmoil and a fear of the future, superheroes offer a form of much needed escapism. But for the most part the likes of Marvel and DC follow a tried and tested formula that doesn’t so much defy genre as define it.

Thankfully, independent cinema loves to go against the grain. Thelma is a film that takes the idea of a superpower and paints it in a provocative and fresh light. The narrative of Thelma covers in two hours what most superhero films cover in a flashback in 3 minutes. The results are a haunting and beautiful story that gets in your head and quietly resides there with its feet up, drinking a cup of tea.

Leaving her religious family for the first time Thelma (Eili Harboe) heads to university. Isolated and unable to make friends Thelma begins to suffer from a series of seizures, the results of which seem to have an impact beyond her body. Breaking free from her overprotective parents and religious ways Thelma embarks on a relationship with Anja (Kaya Wilkins) but with her sexual awakening Thelma’s powers take on terrifying new forms and hark back to a tragedy in her family’s past.

Director Joachim Trier, having ventured to America with his last film Louder Than Bombs, returns to his native Scandinavia to sparse and stunning effect. The world of Thelma is reminiscent of Let The Right One In but with a hint of a silver lining just offering to break through the grey clouds. It conjures a haunting atmosphere, one which allows us to fully invest in Thelma finding her place in the world. On paper this is Carrie but told with a sense of wonder rather than horror, a coming of age story as told by John Hughes with a fantasy element. Think Blue Is The Warmest Colour with telekinetic abilities.

In the title role Harboe is a revelation. Like a teenage Alicia Vikander she imbues Thelma with a sense of outward insecurity and fragility with just enough inner resolve to make you think there is more than meets the eye. Watching her go from shrinking violet to something more is a genuine treat. It is the kind of performance that will certainly see Harboe being thought of by Hollywood as something fresh.

A delicately powerful film, shot with stunning visuals and injected with heartbreaking sadness. Thelma is a beautiful film that defies genre.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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