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Art House Asshole : Thelma

| October 21, 2017

Do you ever want to feel artistically superior to all of your friends? Maybe you are tired of your friends talking about how great the latest action film is and want to sound better.Maybe you want to impress your date with obscure film trivia. Maybe you think that knowing a lot about film history and art will somehow validate your meaningless existence and will replace that ever-growing pit in your heart that tells you that you don’t matter and no one cares about you/ Well don’t worry! Because I watch a bunch of art house films and can give you recommendations on what to watch and what to feel superior about! So without any delay, let’s get pretentious!



I have a very love/hate relationship with “groundbreaking” and “influential” cinema. You get a lot of projects that come out and shock or excite an audience because it is something new. These are films that I tend to either hate or not enjoy nearly as much as others. Then, almost like clockwork, another film comes out that is a similar concept but pulled off much better. An example is Boyhood, a film I thought was pretty mediocre, and Moonlight, a film that is spectacular. Thelma is another example of this. This is because Thelma has very similar themes and design and tells almost the same kind of story as Raw. But Thelma isn’t hot garbage.


Thelma is a Norwegian horror-thriller film from director Joachim Trier. Trier is more famous for his dramatic works such as Oslo, August 31st and more recently the English Language drama Louder Than Bombs. So the foray into horror and the supernatural is a leap for the director. The screening I attended for the film included a Q&A with the director, producer, and cast. In the Q&A the question of what lead him to do a genre film came up. And the director said that even though the film is this different world than what he is used to, the emotion and tone is still the same. Even though this film is about a girl with superpowers, the film is still about emotion, and the film is still remarkably human.


Thelma follows Eili Harboe as the titular Thelma. Thelma is a young woman who leaves her home to attend University in Oslo. There she begins to have a serious relationship with Kaya Wilkins, in her first acting performance. And as things begin to move, stranger and more supernatural things begin to occur. The plot of the film is great. The characters are interesting and feel real. Across the board, the development of the story and characters are great and are aligned with Trier’s other work. And like I stated before, although the film has this idea of horror and spookiness, at the end of the day the film maintains its relatability because of how human the characters and story is.


The cinematography of the film is gorgeous. The director of photography is Jakob Ihre, who frequently collaborates with Trier. If you haven’t seen the rest of Trier’s filmography, you might have seen Ihre’s work in The End of the Tour or Lola Versus. In general, Ihre’s strong suit is capturing the feeling of isolation and cold. Which explains his relationship with Trier and it is similar tone frequently used. But I also have to say that Thelma includes my favorite shot sex scene of the year. I won’t spoil it, but it involves lesbians and a snake, and it is amazing.

Thelma is officially Norway’s submission for the 90th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Will it be nominated? It’s hard to say. I very much enjoyed it. To the point of the only problem I had the film was some poorly done CGI. But I’m not sure if it’s that good. It also, in general, isn’t up the Academy’s wheelhouse. Lesbian Superheroes in a Horror Film? Get outta here; we got BPM to watch to make us cry about gay people in the AIDS crisis. By the way, I’ll be reviewing BPM soon, so don’t worry. I do recommend checking out Thelma, but I’m not sure if it will be your favorite film of the year or stick with you as much as Trier’s other work. But if you like cold Lesbian Superheroes doing spooky stuff, you might like Thelma.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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