Thelma opens on a little girl and her father walking through a snowy Norwegian wilderness. When they come upon a deer, the little girl stares transfixed while her father raises his rifle to aim — first at the animal, but then at the back of his daughter’s head. A long moment later, he lowers his rifle and the mystery begins.
Fast forward to Thelma’s first year at university, where we see her struggling to make friends after growing up in the country with conservative religious parents. Her awkwardness and isolation increase when she begins having periodic seizures in front of her classmates. But a beautiful girl named Anja is drawn to Thelma — as more than just a friend. Thelma agonizes as she tries to reconcile the growing mutual attraction between her and Anja and the religion with which she was raised. But when Anja suddenly vanishes, Thelma returns home to understand what’s at the heart of her own extraordinary nature.
Director Joachim Trier crafts a visually strong and thoughtful film with an intriguing premise, which I won’t spoil except to say that it seems to be a metaphor for accepting oneself and one’s sexuality. It’s a heightened exploration of the period in life when one learns to destroy in order to remake one’s own reality. THE WORD: A subtle and haunting homosexual thriller. COMING TO: Theaters
Last modified: March 28, 2019