Moving from her small town on the west coast of Norway to attend university in Oslo, Thelma (Eili Harboe) is ready to embrace the freedom of this stage of her life. The freedom of adulthood comes with limitations though as her devoutly religious parents, Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), monitor her schedule remotely and call multiple times a day. The transition is even more difficult for Thelma as she finds it hard to make friends. Things start to turnaround when she meets and falls for a fellow student named Anja (Kaya Wilkins). Experiencing the sensation of love for the first time, Thelma is not prepared for the sinister powers that these feelings awaken in her.

Playing with tropes from the horror and science fiction genres, Thelma, the latest film by acclaimed director Joachim Trier, will surely divide audiences. It is a film that is drenched in religious iconography, but leaves much for the audience to decipher themselves. Even when the film offers explanations for what Thelma is going through, it all bubbles up to a rather anti-climatic finale. However, it is the beautifully haunting atmosphere that Trier creates, through meditative shots of nature and Harboe’s nuanced performance, that makes the film an interesting sexual coming-of-age tale.

While Thelma may not completely be the bone chilling tale one might hope for, it does lean on the science fiction elements a little too much, the way Trier approaches Thelma’s sexual realization, and flips the traditional religious ideals of what constitutes good and evil, makes Thelma will worth a look.

Tuesday, September 12, 12:45 PM, Scotiabank 3
Friday, September 15, 3:45 PM, Scotiabank 3

Tickets can be purchased at the TIFF website.