1 March 2013 | OJT
Beautiful, accurate Hamsun, but didn't shed my tears
This is the first time this classic 1898-novel by worldwide acclaimed Knut Hamsun is made into a Norwegian film, and most wanted this to be brilliant. And much is also there. Attractive actors, beautiful scenery and accurate time colorization from the late 1800's. The novel Victoria is filmed plenty times, but it's quite some time since the last time. The Swedish Bo Widerberg-film from 1979 didn't capture this successful at all. Then it's much better here.
Still it didn't touch me the way a tragic triangle love story like this should do. I shed no tears, for either, but then, that's me. This has been years in the making, and this is good work. I several times wonder if unexperienced Iben Marie Akerlie is the right one casted for Victoria. Other times I feel she really is. Jakob Oftebro is shining as Johannes, and Bill Skarsgård is perfect as Otto, and some of the supporting roles are immaculate.
The critics where all over the place after the press showings, and that may have lowered my expectations, but those bashing this are wrong. Those saying this is immaculate I would also disagree with. It will probably touch many quite severe, others it will bore. Still it'll be used for years in schools to illustrate how life was a hundred years ago in Scandinavia. Few Western countries has went further in development than the Nordic countries the last century.
We also very clearly can acclaim the films showing of differences between the society now and then - a time where one couldn't expect to marry others than your father decided. A ting which makes it a interesting watch for youngsters today, experiencing the Norwegian Crown Prince marrying a common girl some years ago, destined to be Norwegian queen.
So what's wrong other than this not hitting me with an arrow in the heart? Maybe stiff dialog? It won't bother an international viewer, but still there's maybe chemistry lacking here? At least I can't see this is Oftebro's fault. He's giving his heart on a plate here. Director Torun Lian has scripted the film very close up to the original text, and this is first time in 9 years directing, and first time she directs other than a children's movie, though she has written good manuscripts for years. It's been hard work. I think locations were perfect. It's like postcards, maybe lacking a fjord or a mountain due to the tourism attraction, I expect those dealing with that, thinking.
Well, nothing to be ashamed of, but still I realize this is a difficult passion to put on the big screen to one which is more of a realist than a romantic. It sure helps to be a romantic to see this, and far more than the novel demands. I hope this will inspire new films of Sult (Hunger), Pan or others in the great bibliography of Hamsun. He's a national icon, nevertheless his his misplaced admiration of national romanticism during the war years.