4 August 2010 | secondtake
it's PIFF PUFF POOF, and if life is beautiful, so is this moving film
Everlasting Moments (2008)
This is a vivid, unsentimental, yet tender and loving portrayal of a Swedish seaside family in the early 20th Century. The brute is the father of the family, and yet he is fun and sometimes loving. The heroine is the mother, who suffers greatly, but who also can never quite break free of her husband. The children grow up and prosper, modestly, anyway, over the 15 years of the movie. And we come to see that this is pretty much the most common story of a working class family from that period, anywhere.
And there is a small extra interest, because the mother discovers a camera among the family things, and is persuaded to learn how to use it. The scenes, interspersed over the years, where she takes pictures and develops them in a makeshift darkroom are beautiful, and yet they are not (thankfully) overblown into something momentous and artistically profound.
My field happens to be the History of Photography, which I teach at a couple colleges here in Albany, and I have to say, they nailed the historical accuracy very well. I can't say for sure about when that camera was made, but it seems about right. More importantly, I can say that the style of the photographs is really typical for a talented, serious, dabbling amateur such as our leading woman. The size, the clarity, her care in holding it (even turning it horizontally for a key photograph), and the procedure in general is quite exactly how I would have advised a moviemaker to go about it. This helps not only people in the know (there aren't so many of us, I realize) but in general an historical validity in the bones of the movie.
As elegant as the movie is filmed (almost to excess, in a few scenes--the cinematography outclassed by the simple, gorgeous use of light throughout), it comes across as hard and true. The film is beautiful, but life is beautiful. It's not easy, it involves losing some battles, it involves giving up some dignity, but if you stay the course, as these people do in ways most contemporary families would not, there is some other kind of reward.