‘Hope’ Review: The Relationship Between Two Artists is Tested [TIFF 2019]

/Film | 9/20/2019 | Jason Gorber
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Scandinavians know how to draw out operatic misery from quotidian life, and Hope, filmmaker Maria Sødahl’s masterful take on a couple in crisis, illustrates just how effective delving into the misery of brokenness can be.

We meet Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig), a ballet director who is finally finding her own success after many years of living in the shadow of her husband. Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) is an esteemed theatre director, often away from home chasing his own projects, making for a complicated schedule between the spouses. They have three children together, along with two of Tomas’ from a previous marriage, and live a kind of upper-middle class family life with its usual challenges.

Anja - Tumor - Lung - Cancer - Diagnosis

But Anja is soon diagnosed with a tumor, connected with a lung cancer diagnosis she received the Christmas before. (The story is based on Sødahl’s own real-life experience being diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago.) Anja confides in her husband, whose shock doesn’t immediately come with quite the sympathy expected. Her children, living their own lives and oblivious to their newly-ill mother, come across as selfish and unfeeling.

Thus begins a story of love and acceptance, one where quiet moments of panic and larger episodes of anger, frustration, and fear cloud the family. Hovig and Skarsgård are masterful in their dynamic, providing near-documentary levels of believability to their characters. The dance between acceptance of the vagaries...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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