This idea is what drives Everlasting Moments (or Maria Larsson’s Everlasting Moments), a film of extraordinary compassion and delicacy. The film is based on the life of Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen) who, in 1907, began taking photographs with a camera she and her husband, Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt), won in a lottery. Maria, Sigfrid and their children live in Malmo, a small city in Sweden. Sigfrid is a union dockworker who struggles with alcoholism and is frequently violent towards Maria and their children. As a seamstress and woman of her time, Maria weathers her abusive marriage for the sake of keeping her children fed and clothed. It’s only when she discovers the forgotten camera at the bottom of a wardrobe that the world opens up for her. As she begins to capture images on the plates of her sturdy Contessa, Maria experiences, maybe for the first time, the possessive quality of being an image-maker, of seeing the world as no one else sees it.
Since director Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments is about a photographer at the beginning of the 20th century, I was going to begin this review with some heavy commentary about how we now take the magic of photography for granted. I was going to wax generational about megapixels, Photoshop shenanigans, and how even our phones now come standard with a camera. But, as I was concocting this rant, I had to admit that, at least for me, nothing could be further from the truth. Photographs, whether still or in motion, have captured me for as long as I can remember. Image speaks to me beyond any other form of expression, and its transcendent powers require no translator, only an observer.
The film is alive with these small, empathetic moments. But Troell never strays into flourishing sentimentality, nor does he allow his image to exaggerate Maria’s life for the sake of dramatics. Instead, he gives us over to Maria Heiskanen’s observant and incredibly subtle performance. Everlasting Moments is a fine example of what a trusting director and a confident actor can produce.
EVERLASTING MOMENTS, a moving and richly nuanced tale of a
Swedish womans creative and emotional awakening at the turn of the
20th century, is the latest film from celebrated director and five-time
Oscar®nominee Jan Troell (THE EMIGRANTS, THE NEW LAND). The film
was a hit at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals and was nominated
for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009.
Based on a true story, EVERLASTING MOMENTS follows the story of
Maria (Maria Heiskanen), who is married to an alcoholic and womanizing
dockworker (Mikael Persbrandt). Her husband leaves the worries of family
responsibilities entirely to Maria. Her situation is desperate until she
meets a camera shop owner (Jesper Christensen) who encourages her
to start taking and developing photographs. She soon begins to see the
world in new ways that threaten her already perilous situation.