Jits epic-scale adaptation of a series of novels by Vilhelm Moberg deserves its 148-minute runtime, giving the plot enough space to cover a broad and deep story of a Swedish community’s transition to the New World in the middle of the 19th century. You’d think that kind of coming to America story would now be as exhausted as the poor soil that farmer Karl-Oskar Nilsson (Gustaf Skarsgaard, one of the lesser-known members of Sweden’s illustrious comedian clan) leaves behind. behind him in Scandinavia when he goes in search of a better life with richer turf and less control from the Lutheran Puritans. But like the fragile, dry apple tree that Kristina (Lisa Carlehed), Karl-Oskar’s wife, and her children take with them on their long journey, this saga takes root and flourishes, thanks to thoughtful filmmaking and a particularly fine performance by Carlehed. , whose character is the film’s anchor consciousness.
At times, it can feel like Norwegian director Erik Poppe (who directed the excellent Utøya on July 22) has blown Terrence Malick’s laughing gas a bit too much given the generous use of poetic voice-over and many backlit shots of children running through tall grass. at magic hour. But that look goes with the territory, in this case literally, because the Minnesota wilderness is where the Nilsson family calls it home. After making the arduous journey there with village outcast Ulrika (Tove Lo) and learning along the way to loosen her stiff moral laces to allow for an unexpected friendship with the village’s former “bitch”, Kristina is forced to choose between her new friend and the old ways when a few dozen people from back home show up on the doorstep.
This female focus adds a new angle to the genre, especially the honest and gory look at childbirth and child-rearing on the frontier. Then there is the issue of indigenous peoples who may or may not pose a threat to Europeans who think the land is just there to be taken. With the collision between Swedes and Native Americans, the film ventures on the edge of politically correct cliche – but we can let it slip given the bravery and honesty elsewhere.