More Than Ever
After a visit to the infamous beach in M Night Shyamalan’s Old and a trip to Fårö in Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island, Vicky Krieps this time searches for fulfilment in the ice-cold Norwegian fjords in Emily Atef’s More Than Ever.
Female characters searching their soul while floating in water is a rather hackneyed staple of contemporary indie filmmaking, but it’s done beautifully here. Cinematographer Yves Cape keeps the camera so close to Krieps’ body that it is rendered abstract – its peaks and curves become a landscape, a shoulder transforms into a mountain and goosebumps into rocky ground. The images mirror the hills surrounding the fjord, an almost metaphysical space which Krieps’ character can’t stop visualising when she’s confined to her flat in Bordeaux, inspiring her to make the pilgrimage to Norway for real.
Krieps plays Hélène, a thirty-something grappling with a rare lung disease and the strain it places on her marriage to Matheiu, played by the late Gaspard Ulliel in his penultimate role. Already melancholic in tone, the knowledge of Ulliel’s tragic death in January 2022 casts a huge shadow over the film. His character is fiercely resistant to his wife’s terminal prognosis, determined that she should undergo risky and invasive surgery for a chance at survival. His casting can’t help but render the role more impactful, though to say so feels like a disservice as it’s a truthful performance that encompasses the emotional turbulence of love, grief, frustration and terror at helplessly witnessing your partner’s health deteriorate.
We first meet Hélène in a state of alternating apathy and fury. Dragged by Matheiu to a dinner party, she can’t stand either her friends’ sympathy or the pretence that nothing is wrong. She eschews New-Agey websites about terminal illness and instead forges a friendship with a cancer patient in Norway via his photography blog. Krieps, as always, is immensely watchable but this opening section feels somewhat inert and it takes far too long for Hélène to set off on her voyage of self-discovery to Norway, especially considering that it’s hardly a surprising turn of events. Things get more interesting once she arrives as she builds a connection with the online friend who isn’t what she expected while her relationship with Matheiu begins to fracture.
Although she struggles with the perpetual daylight, Hélène comes to terms with her fate, walking the hills surrounding the fjord and around the achingly tasteful interiors of her Scandi-chic cabin. It’s all oh-so aesthetically pleasing and would no doubt be approved of by the Norwegian tourist board, but, aside from a lovely visual gag about the one hill with phone signal being packed with locals, there’s little that’s unexpected here. As demonstrated by the film’s final third, Atef evidently has a skill for crafting humane, sometimes contradictory characters and for drawing out compelling performances. And yet as interesting as the interpersonal drama should be, it might just leave you, as Monty Python would say, pining for the fjords.
Little White Lies is committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them.
By becoming a member you can support our independent journalism and receive exclusive essays, prints, monthly film recommendations and more.
Krieps and Ulliel make for an appealing pairing.
Strong performances and beautifully shot, but not really much meat on the bone.
A perfectly pleasant experience to be almost immediately forgotten.
The post More Than Ever appeared first on Little White Lies.