Phoenix (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Camilla Strom Henriksen, Norway, 2018, 86 mins

Cast: Maria Bonnevie, Ylva Bjorkaas Thedin, Casper Falck-Lovas, Sverrir Gudnason,

Review by Carlie Newman

About to celebrate her 14th birthday, Jill (Ylva Bjorkas Thedin) has a lot to cope with as she looks after her mother Astrid (Maria Bonnevie), who suffers from mental illness, her young brother Bo (Casper Falk-Lovas) and their home. The young actress manages very well in the part. Dealing with her absent father and encouraging her mother to turn up for a job interview, Jill also has to go to school and pretend that all is normal at home.

When her father announces that he is coming home for a visit, Jill tries hard to ensure that the house is tidy, with food in the fridge and her mother out of bed and dressed. A tragedy occurs before her father arrives, but Jill is determined that nothing will stop the celebrations for her birthday. She hides the evidence and doesn’t tell anyone what has occurred. She keeps her secret so that she and Bo can survive as a family.

This debut feature from Norwegian writer-director Camilla Strom Henriksen, is strong stuff. She tells a dramatic story in a realistic manner and one really believes in the ties binding the little family.

A moving, sad performance from Maria Bonnevie interacts well with that of Ylva Bjorkas Thedin who plays the daughter forced to take on the position of the responsible adult. She gives a remarkably mature performance for such a young actor. In smaller parts, Casper Falk-Lovas conveys his feelings with his facial expressions as he listens to his sister’s explanations about their parents; and Sverrir Gudnason conveys the father’s gradual realisation that he has let his family down in masterly fashion.

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