This accomplished, courageous and deeply moving debut from Norwegian writer-director Camilla Strøm Henriksen inventively mixes elements of fantasy and kitchen-sink drama in its tale of a young girl struggling to keep her family together in the aftermath of a tragedy.
From a young age, Jill (a mesmerising Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin) has been the responsible adult in her family, caring for her younger brother Bo (Casper Falck-Løvás) and her unstable, alcoholic mother Astrid (Maria Bonnevie). When news arrives that their estranged musician father Nils (Sverrir Gudnason) will visit on Jill’s birthday, it gives a her much needed light at the end of the tunnel. But when tragedy strikes, Jill decides to bury the truth. Nothing will ruin her birthday – not when it’s a matter of survival for herself and Bo.
Fearlessly charting the horror of parental substance abuse and mental illness, this striking drama is eloquent on the pain and pressures of being forced to grow up too quickly. And if films about tough childhoods frequently play out in the context of economic deprivation, this reminds us that superficial advantages are no bar to the huge burdens that are often placed on one’s offspring.
- The screening of Phoenix on Tue 17 Sep is part of our Cinébites deal: get 30% off any main dish in the Café/Bar with a valid cinema ticket.