Director Maria Sodahl tracks the couple’s story over the course of only one Christmas break, but the film is more a chronicle of one family’s entire existence. Skarsgard, by the way, is typically excellent – it’s just that he mostly, and graciously, cedes the screen to Hovig, who is given much more to do and handles it with aplomb.
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It’s an ode to the satisfactions of facing life head-on with whatever time you have left. And writer-director Maria Sødahl semi-autobiographical drama earns every iota of its hard-won uplift.
It's the integrity of the performances by Hovig and Skarsgard that keeps the classy drama so engrossing, with the director making neither character entirely saint or sinner but giving them both infinite shadings in between.
Maria Sødahl’s considers the extreme emotions provoked by a medical emergency with an impressive force of clarity.
There’s much to like about Hope, but it’s the honesty I liked best.
Unconcerned with happy or sad endings (or endings at all beyond the desire for one to be shared and enjoyed to its fullest), [Sødahl] focuses instead on the unbridled emotions that swirl within us on the difficult journeys through tragedy. Nothing is out of bounds.
Thanks to some fantastic performances and a patient, well-crafted script, this is a film that should find international audiences interested in some truly adult storytelling. There’s enough originality and sophistication here that an English language redux wouldn’t be unheard of, making one hope that any translation maintains the craft and elegance of Sødahl’s presentation.
Sødahl’s skill at making gesture and its absence count in the most subtle ways is an essential component in our investment with these protagonists, thanks to the superbly understated camerawork of Lars von Trier’s regular DP Manuel Alberto Claro.
Bræin Hovig and Skarsgård take us into their confidence as they make these choices, decisions, promises and compromises. The wonder of Hope is how much of that they do without dialogue, just with a look, a gesture, a silent scream of despair or teeth grinding in resignation.
A warm gathering of Scandinavian artists, with Sweden’s Skarsgård and Norway’s Hovig both excelling under Norwegian director Maria Sødahl’s attentive care.