Above all, Norwegian Oscar submission Hope (original title Håp) is a relationship movie about messy, committed love. Though the film is centered on someone struggling with cancer, writer/director Maria Sødahl doesn’t create a shiny, Hollywood ‘cancer film’. She reveals many aspects of what it’s like to face mortality, from the perspective of a woman and mother, as well as from those standing by, like the children and the partner who love her, and does so with such truth, that the film will resonate with a wide variety of viewers. The film will also resonate with most who are in or have had long term relationships, which often involve complications, resentments, and the experience of repeatedly falling out of and back into love.

Sødahl, basing Hope on her own battle with cancer, tells the story of Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) getting a diagnosis of a terminal brain tumor, and how she and her long term companion Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) navigate the experience, both as partners and parents of a large blended family. The couple has grown apart and learned to live within in a relationship of little communication or quality time. Anja’s sickness makes it clear she must ask for and demand help and support from Tomas in order to face her uncertain future on the best terms. It’s as if they go through all the stages of grief both together and apart, all while reevaluating their partnership moment by moment.

For the entire review, go to AWFJ.org HERE.