Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Everlasting Moments REVIEW

Everlasting Moments isn’t an easy movie to describe. On the one hand, it’s about how a woman named Maria (Maria Heiskanen) used her natural eye for beauty to take startlingly honest and intimate photographs. On the other, it’s an examination of Maria’s marriage to an alcoholic, abusive, philandering man named Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt).  In both cases it defies expectations. We expect, for instance, that Maria will eventually leave her husband, but she doesn’t. We also expect her to become famous for her art, but again, she doesn’t. It’s for both of these reasons, though, that Everlasting Moments is so good (even though it’s a movie I admire more than I like).

Director Jan Troell has crafted a work of art that corrects two reigning ideologies—that personal happiness should be our highest goal, and that only success and money can bring happiness. While it’s obvious to everyone else (including us) that Maria should leave Sigfrid in the dust, she remains steadfast in her love for him, becoming a picture of the suffering servant in the process. To our modern mind, this makes about as much sense as turning the other cheek (I’m still struggling to understand her decision). It also makes no sense that Maria wouldn’t have become a famous artist. But such an expectation relies on a faulty view of art—one driven by greed and a sense of entitlement rather than a search for meaning and a simple joy in using one’s talents for the glory of God. It’s in both these sense that Everlasting Moments, like Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, preaches a counterintuitive message, and one that's missing from too many contemporary films.

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