Thelma

Thelma ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is my spoiler review of Thelma, click here for my spoiler-free review.

My thoughts are too scattered so this is a list:

- I loved how Thelma's powers are never portrayed as wrong in the movie. Sure, she does terrible things, but mainly when she's a child and/or asleep, so when it's completely out of her control. Other than that, the movie tries really hard to link Thelma's powers to nature (the animal imageries, the focus on the trees and Norwegian landscape, the fact that she inherited that from her grandmother (there's also an interesting idea of it being a female power, as her grandmother has it but not her dad, and when she looks up her condition on the internet she only sees pictures of women)), and with that ending, the movie very clearly is telling us that Thelma should embrace her power rather than repress it, which actually proves more disastrous than embracing it. Obviously there's the issue of Anja's feelings: is she really in love with Thelma? Or is she just being controlled 24/7? The movie doesn't tell us enough about the extent of Thelma's powers to really have an idea, and I get why people would be uneasy about it, but because the movie is 1. very on board with the idea of Thelma's powers being inherently good, and 2. very metaphorical, it doesn't bother me too much.

- Thelma's father's death is incredible. It's very mythological, reminded me of Tantalus punishment except here it's either you die by fire or by drowning. But my sister noticed a link with another scene of the movie that gives this death so much more sense: earlier in the movie, Thelma tells Anja that her father used to put her hand above a candle until it hurt to show her what Hell was like. By burning her father alive, Thelma is pretty much punishing him for that, truly showing him Hell. The fact that her father chooses to drown rather than burn is also telling: to not be in Hell, Thelma had to be opressed by strict religious rules and parental supervision, suffocated by it, drowned in it. The water imagery all throughout the movie can represent that and also the typical metaphor of deep water as being a representation of the subconscious.

- The desire vs repression theme is just.... so relatable. She literally makes Anja disappear..... And that scene where she calls her dad after kissing Anja and can't tell him what happened so she pretends she's upset because she drank alcohol and she's crying so much..... wow.

- some parallels with the story of Orpheus & Eurydice: Orpheus/Thelma can entrance people (one with his lyre the other with her mind), they both fall in love with a woman with whom they live happily for a short time, then the woman dies/disappears, and while Orpheus has to descend into Hell to talk to Hades & Persephone to bring Eurydice back, Thelma has to go back to her childhood home to confront her parents and eventually manages to bring Anja back.

- Like I mentioned in my spoiler-free review, Thelma reminded me to some extent of The Killing of a Sacred Deer. There's this whole religious crisis going on in the movie; Thelma is basically a God, or at the very least she has God-like power, and I find it interesting how her parents, firm believers, react to this. They try to control her not only because they fear what she could do to the world, but also because they want to feel superior to her (that look Thelma's mom gives her when Thelma is picking up the broken cup!! the way her dad shuts her down when they're talking about religion & biology at the restaurant!!) and because they fear her judgement: they've done terrible things, tried to kill her, hid huge secrets from her, and they're scared of the consequences of that. It's also A ReachTM I know but I find this interpretation interesting, I love stories with big religious layer and "gods among men" themes. It's also interesting how the first shot of Thelma at the campus is shown through a God's eye view (representation of religion & her parents monitoring her) but the ending scene is zooming out from her to the crowd, both showing how now she's integrated into the campus (whereas she was lost & alone at the beginning) and more comfortable with herself, but also how now she's the God, literally or figuratively ("the God of her own life" kind of, she can finally center on herself without the opression of religion or her parents).
- Pretty obvious metaphor but when she throws up the bird after her father dies, I love the fact that the bird was caged inside herself, that the bird metaphor of captivity is literally inside her.

UPDATE:
- on Thelma's phone you can see Anja's full name, and on the monitor at the doctor's when Thelma is having tests done to her you can see Thelma's full name (also that she's born on the 29th of February lmao), and LITERALLY, I KID YOU NOT, Anja's full name is Anja ADAMS Lie, and Thelma's is Thelma EVA Brenne. ADAMS and EVA. I'm losing my mind over this movie.
Also Brenne means "to burn" in Norwegian, so Thelma's dad's fate was literally told in his last name.
- the scene where Anja & Thelma dance at the club is actually foreshadowing Anja's disappearance later in the movie. Thelma & Anja are together, there are big flashing lights, suddenly Thelma is alone, she leaves to talk to her dad, and later that night wills Anja to her place; the same way Thelma & Anja are together for a certain portion of the movie, then Thelma makes Anja disappears while the lights are flashing, and Thelma has to back to her childhood home to talk to & confront her father until she eventually wills Anja back to reality.
- if you listen closely, you can hear the song Mountaineers by Susanne Sundfor during the "morning after" scene (the scene where Thelma & Anja wake up after Anja spent the night at Thelma's place). The song is used diegetically, it sounds as if a neighbor is listening to it as the song is a bit muffled. What's interesting is that it is the same song that Anja is then blasting in her own appartment in the scene in which she disappears; since during this moment Anja is feeling guilty and misses Thelma (she keeps calling her phone), we can assume she associates this song with her because of that night/morning and is listening to it because of this.

Please comment below if you have anything to add, new interpretations, the weirder the better!!

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