One of the hopeful highlights to come out of Toronto International Film Festival is Joachim Trier’s supernatural thriller Thelma, which tells the story of (you guessed it) Thelma, young woman from a religious family who goes to college and meets Anja, for whom she develops very intense feelings. At the same time, she begins to experience extreme seizures, which, according to the description, are “a symptom of inexplicable, often dangerous, supernatural abilities.” So in a way, it’s basically Carrie-meets-Raw-meets-Blue Is the Warmest Color, and if the intersection of those three movies doesn’t call to you, then we can’t be friends.
Sorry, that was mean. We can be friends. I just might not trust your taste in movies.
Anyway. Judging by the trailer, this movie promises to be incredibly stylish, and even this small two minute look was just jam packed full of stark symbolism and meticulously laid out shots. I’ll say that one can probably hazard a guess as to the underlying message of the film, which would be that Thelma’s newfound frightening superpowers are symbolic of the empowerment that comes with discovering true love. The fear and the horror come in as this love (or even infatuation) conflicts with the values and beliefs she’s inherited from her family, who are shown to be not only very religious, but also very committed to helping Thelma “deal with her feelings.”
There are some very striking shots of Thelma hooked up to either an EEG or—and this is where the “hazard” part of the guess comes in—an electroshock therapy-type of rig. It might be a fair guess, I think, as again, when her parents say something about helping her with her feelings, we’re made to believe that they’re the kind of fundies who would believe in “praying the gay away”—and when that fails, “shocking it away.”
This is all a lot of speculation (of course it is, it’s me writing this post, y’all, come on), so maybe take that all with a grain of salt. It’s all based on whatever context I can glean from this trailer. Either way, I think Thelma promises to be a pretty good ride, if not one that subjects the viewer to an exploration into some pretty abject fears.
It opens worldwide November 10th.
(via Uproxx, image: screengrab)
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