A coming-of-age tale focused on a sheltered girl with supernatural side effects

Thelma ★★★ 1/2

Norwegian director Joachim Trier made one of the best films of the decade with his deeply humanistic drama, Oslo, August 31st, so it was surprising to hear his latest movie described as Carrie, if Ingmar Bergman made it. But that descriptor is an oversimplification of this coming-of-age tale focused on a sheltered girl whose budding sexual desires trigger violent seizures that come with supernatural side effects. It would be easy to try to classify Trier and regular co-screenwriter Eskil Vogt’s latest as a horror/thriller, but at its core, the genre hybrid is a satisfying love story. Actress Eili Harboe, 23, plays doe-eyed college freshman Thelma, whose deeply religious father (Henrik Rafaelsen) turns a rifle on the then 6-year-old (Grethe Eltervåg) during the film’s shocking prologue. We’ll eventually discover the tragedy that once led him to take aim at his home-schooled offspring, but not before we experience the undeniable spark that flares between Thelma and Anja (Norwegian/American musician Kaya Wilkins), an attraction that troubles the devoutly raised girl. The situation is only complicated when her unexpected emotions begin to manifest themselves telepathically. Despite this, the talented Trier remains focused on feelings rather than fireworks, grounding his high-concept hook. (At the Brattle Theatre on Jan. 19-25.)

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