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Review: 'Everlasting Moments'

An emotionally resonant story about a Swedish mother whose passion for photography offers her an escape from an oppressive marriage.

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Jan Troell's "Everlasting Moments" is about a turn-of-the-century Swedish woman, Maria Larsson (the magnificent Maria Heiskanen), who tries to escape the indignities of her life by taking photographs. She's just an amateur really, but, as a flattering camera shop owner friend tells her, "Not everyone is endowed with the gift of seeing." Her fate, glorious and maddening, is to see with the utmost clarity both the miseries and joys of her existence.

Maria Larsson was the real-life great-aunt of Troell's wife, Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell, who co-wrote the screenplay with her husband and Niklas Radström. This helps to explain why "Everlasting Moments" has such emotional resonance. It is, in the deepest sense, a family affair. Ulfsäter-Troell, who was the guiding force behind the project, spent six years, starting in 1986, interviewing Maria's oldest daughter, Maja, about her mother. From the wealth of personal reminiscence that poured out, the filmmakers shaped Maria's story from 1907 over the course of about a decade. Few movies give as powerful a rendering of the passage of time on a life.

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