December 21, 2017 – This Norwegian film about the danger inherent in unrestrained power, opens with a young girl, Thelma (played by Grethe Eltervåg as a girl and by Eili Harboe as an adult) with her father, Trond (played by Henrik Rafaelsen) walking across a frozen lake. They go into a nearby woods and spot a deer. The father aims his hunting rifle at the deer, but, as his daughter watches the deer, he swings the rifle around and points it at her head.
Trond is unable to pull the trigger, and Thelma is next seen as an adult, entering college. She is a devout Christian, but is starting to experiment with alcohol, drugs and her own sexuality. At the same time, she starts having seizures, which appear to be epileptic seizures, but are, in fact, a more rare disorder. They are psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.
Something else is happening, however. Thelma's seizures seem to be causing direct effects on the physical world. Flying birds appear to be affected. Electrical power in nearby buildings flickers on and off during the seizures. Other unexplained events seem to be happening at the same time. The seizures seem to be related to Thelma's emotional state, particularly her attraction to another student, Anja (Kaya Wilkins). Her feelings for this woman conflict with her strict Christian upbringing.
Thelma takes a battery of medical tests. During the tests, she finds out that she is not the first person in her family to suffer the same kind of seizures. Her grandmother also had the seizures. She also finds out that her father, a doctor, has been involved in prescribing powerful psychoactive drugs for her as a child, and also for her grandmother. Also, she discovers her grandmother is still alive, even though Thelma's mother and father told her she had died years ago. She goes to visit her grandmother in a nursing home.
In flashbacks, we find out why Thelma's father once thought about murdering Thelma. Increasingly upset, Thelma drops out of college and moves back home with her parents, where events build to a climax as the full extent of Thelma's true nature is revealed.
This coming of age movie reminded me a bit of a 1961 Twilight Zone episode, “It's a Good Life,” written by Jerome Bixby, about a town terrorized by a little boy who can make people disappear with the power of his mind alone. This Norwegian film is filled with disturbing dream sequences and a couple of scenes of people being killed.
The performances by Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins and Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Unni, Thelma's mother, are all solid. The story, while fantastic and unbelievable, is compelling. This film is the Norwegian submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for best foreign film of 2017. This film rates a B.
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