02 Dec 21
One of the great joys of watching a film at the cinema is experiencing a story so remarkable that it stays with you after you leave. Celebrated Norwegian filmmaker Maria Sødahl delivers just that with her emotional new drama, Hope.
Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård play Anja and Tomas, a married couple who have grown apart over the years because of work and emotional distance. That barrier becomes even more clear when Anja receives life-changing news, and the pair begin to realise that they have lived very different lives. With a tough fight ahead, the pair reconnect, discovering new things about each other as they learn that while life may not be perfect, there is always hope.
Sødahl's profound, uplifting script is matched by superb performances from her lead actors. Hovig gives Anja remarkable strength, as well as some humour, as she finds beauty in the most challenging of circumstances. Over a celebrated career, Skarsgård has shone in everything from Mamma Mia! to recent blockbuster Dune. As Tomas, the acclaimed performer shows yet another side to his abilities, as a man who looks at his partner of many years with an entirely new perspective. They experience ups and down, but love is always at the heart of their journey.
The third star is Maria Sødahl's vision, which draws from her own personal experiences. She emphasises the power of family in her story, particularly through setting the film at Christmas. Whereas some might have done this for aesthetics, here it is to symbolise the bond Anja and Tomas have with their children and extended family. We see how, when faced with difficulties, families have a beautiful ability to pull closer together and redefine relationships. We also see the love that compels parents to put themselves second, somehow finding the strength to be the light through the uncertainty.
Hope's understated grace allows an unforgettable story to truly touch your heart. It's no wonder that the film's festival run drew comparisons with classic relationship dramas like Scenes From A Marriage, but was also praised for its more hopeful outlook. Brilliant work both in front of and behind the camera brings a human tale that will resonate with all who see it, and stay with you for a long time afterwards. James Luxford
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