For the cinephile, discovering a new film by famed Swedish director Jan Troell (one of this year's Telluride tributees) is a lot like eating a perfectly made truffle after a lifetime of mass-produced candy bars. His latest effort, Everlasting Moments, was like that for me; it's that rare cinematic experience that you settle back, bite into, and then savor as the subtle richness of the film cleanses the palate and fills the soul.
Based on the real-life story of Troell's wife's grandmother, the film takes us through the life of Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen, in a remarkable performance), a belabored mother of a large brood in the early days of the 20th century who finds renewed passion and intellectual independence through a Contessa camera she wins in a lottery. The camera sits for many years unused until one day, Maria takes it into the shop of the local photographer, Sebastien Pederson (Jesper Christensen), to sell it to help pay the rent.
The kindly Pederson shows Maria how to use the camera, and once she starts using it, she begins to see the world through a whole new lens. Finding herself unable to resist continuing to learn and improve her eye as a photographer, Maria becomes obsessed with capturing the little moments of life around her through the miraculous ability to capture living moments in still images.