Even more pressing is the dilemma of when and how to break the news to them. Last year, this time, she revealed she had lung cancer, but doctors were hopeful it would be treated. This year, the news offers much less hope. If she’s coming, she wonders half-jokingly, will it ruin Christmas for these kids forever?
By removing the layers of Anja’s concern for the children and also for her elderly father, who is visiting, Sødahl focuses on the heart of this emotional crisis: the relationship between Anja and Tomas. The more we learn, the more fragile it seems. At one point, she reveals that she was about to leave him a year ago, only to be arrested by the previous cancer diagnosis. Said that he probably only has a few months left to live, she now seems zealous to probe his connection to Tomas to see what truth he holds, what he is lying. Have they been faithful to each other or not? She admits to loving a man she didn’t pursue. Tomas sheepishly confesses to an “affair” long ago, but says his real rival was his job.
This seems to be the most accurate diagnosis of what afflicts this union at the deepest level, and the fault is clearly not on its side alone. The two partners have allowed careers and children to distance them from each other, to the point that their life together ends up being too superficial, each dissatisfied but unable to express or overcome this unhappiness. But now, a seemingly incurable disease forces them to face their deepest feelings for each other and wonder if there is real love behind the masquerade of love they’ve been through.
In some ways, “Hope” evokes Bergman’s searing marriage dramas like “Scenes from a Marriage,” but Sødahl’s touch is quite lighter. Its pleasantly naturalistic style, encouraged by the beautifully nuanced cinematography of Manuel Alberto Claro, gives scenes and moments room to breathe, allowing viewers to absorb the textures and flavors, moods and rituals of the spacious Olso d Apartment. ‘Anja and Tomas, with its incessant flow of people, meals and silences. Above all, her directorial skills underpin the power of two of the most remarkable performances I’ve seen in a movie this year.