October 20, 2017
Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt began writing ‘Thelma’ based on set pieces and imagery rather than plot.
Joachim Trier’s Thelma, co-written with longtime collaborator Eskil Vogt, is a departure from their previous work. Respite, Oslo, August 31st, and Louder than Bombs were discursive character studies steeped in naturalism. Thelma, although also character-driven, is a spectacle of a film, featuring grandiose imagery and supernatural powers.
When Thelma (Eili Harboe), a demure college freshman, leaves her strict and religious family to study in Oslo, she begins experiencing violent seizures. The seizures worsen as she finds herself intensely drawn to a classmate, Anja (Kaya Wilkins). Complicating things further is the fact that Thelma, much like Stephen King’s Carrie, discovers she can manipulate the external world with her mind—but just how she can control this force, and whether or not it is benevolent, remains to be seen. Told with careful attention to detail and a chilling slow burn, Thelma is a supernatural coming-of-age story and a meditation on faith and the ruinous nature of desire.