Delicately extracted from the famous Norwegian novel Sunday, this 1996 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is that rarity: a successful female coming-of-age movie. Skillfully directed and written with uncommon sensitivity, THE OTHER SIDE OF SUNDAY bursts at the seams with life.
In 1959, impressionable 16-year-old Maria (Marie Theisen) bristles under the regimented code of behavior imposed by her father, the Vicar (Bjorn Sundquist). When she earns a B grade at school, he rigidly insists on tutoring; when her mother suffers from ulceritis, he forbids Maria's favorite
pastime, playing the piano.
Marie begins to rebel by questioning the instruction classes she is required to attend for her upcoming Confirmation. She becomes friends with widowed Mrs. Tunheim (Hildegunn Riise), the church organist, who proves to be a kindred spirit. She is shocked to overhear her self-righteous father
breaking off a secret relationship with Mrs. Tunheim. She responds to her father's hypocrisy by challenging him with blasphemous reasoning and cutting her religious classes to hang out with her worldlier school chums. She is encouraged by Mrs. Tunheim, who begs Maria not to follow her life of
Opting to keep peace for her family's sake, Maria docilely prepares for her Confirmation. But after the despairing Mrs. Tunheim drowns herself, Maria recalls her advice to "do what I never dared" and walks away from her Church and its demand for self-denial.
This alternately humorous and mournful saga studies the incubation of a teen's self-identity. With passion and compassion, it salutes a free spirit who survives peer pressure and parental emotional abuse to accept her own individuality. Where more superficial films about adolescent angst
incorporate narration as a colorful addendum, THE OTHER SIDE OF SUNDAY makes Maria's interior monologues an integral, ongoing part of its psychological journey. Surrounded by inferior role models, Maria discovers herself by trial and error. Played with subtle power by the iridescent Marie Theisen,
the sensibly heroic Maria is a remarkable protagonist, an unfinished woman who refuses to have her personality "completed" by her father's repressive standards. Nor does THE OTHER SIDE OF SUNDAY caricature its adult characters; the audience appreciates how Maria's mother came by her ulcer and
understands that Maria's father is himself a victim of the Church.
What gives this evocative movie its forward thrust is its celebration of Maria's progress from dutiful daughter to a woman with a will of her own. Rejecting the slow death of martyrdom, Maria achieves maturity not through sexual experience but via a decision to worship her God with music,
sensuality, and an intuitive affinity for expressing love openly. (Extreme profanity, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Delicately extracted from the famous Norwegian novel Sunday, this 1996 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is that rarity: a successful female coming-of-age movie. Skillfully directed and written with uncommon sensitivity, THE OTHER SIDE OF SUNDAY… (more)