Piff! Paff! Puff! Capturing in photos a world choked with anxiety and wonder, mother-of-five Maria (Maria Heiskanen) escapes the clutches of her booze-addled husband by seeking the beauty in early 20th-Century Sweden.
Armed with a state-of-the-art camera, she reveals a landscape changed by industrialisation and plunging headlong into the technological unknown. A Swedish Amelie? Hardly.
Grit and gristle reign as director Jan Troell evokes coal-black despair and brittle, fragile joys, while Heiskanen slam-dunks her portrayal of the introverted and duty-bound Maria.
It didn’t get its moment at the BAFTAs, but this portrait will enjoy long-term glory.
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