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Thelma may be meek and timid but there’s a power in her that terrifies even her own parents.Trier makes their terror evident from the very first scene — we meet Thelma as a child, hiking through the woods with her father on the hunt for a deer. But the intent is there, and the intent is enough to make the point.When the target comes into view, her father steadies his rifle on the animal, and as the young Thelma watches and waits, her father turns the gun on her, aiming directly at the young girl’s head. There’s something wrong with this girl, so wrong her own father thinks the world would be better without her in it.The action of the film picks up decades later with the adult Thelma; sweet, quiet and utterly pure. And she definitely, definitely doesn’t have sex with women because she’s a good Christian girl, deeply invested in her faith.Her mother keeps tabs on her study schedule over the internet.
Elio is transfixed by Oliver at first sight, but approaches the handsome American warily, keeping him at arm’s length.For his first venture into the realm of genre filmmaking, Trier holds fast to the in-depth character drama that established his filmmaking career, treating the supernatural and mundane elements of Thelma’s journey with equal respect.Ultimately, loses a bit of its punch in the final act as the momentum of the powerful first half wanes and the film ties up its mysteries in a fairly predictable fashion, but Trier’s eye for subtle horror and unflinching intimacy makes it an engrossing emotional experience through and through. Emotions and impulses rage past rationality, your heart flutters, your voice catches, heat pours through your body as you try to understand newfound passions and uncertain desires.And if you’ve been taught that those passions and desires are wrong or sinful, if you believe the very instincts that define you will condemn you to hell, that experience can also be utterly terrifying.
As she taps into her sexuality and turns away from her repressive upbringing, Thelma begins to discover the dangerous power within herself — the same power that almost led her father to kill her.