QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM BERLIN
Danish filmmaker Pernille Fischer Christensen paints a beautiful picture of Swedish children’s writer Astrid Lindgren, best known for the book series featuring Pippi Longstocking. Smart, delicate and superbly shot, Becoming Astrid bonds the talent of a director with her subject (both Scandinavian women are writers, and Christensen also co-wrote the screenplay), projecting a message of female resilience and sorority.
Becoming Astrid takes us back in time nearly 100 years to the 1920s, and into Astrid’s personal life and her very own private struggle for equality as a young woman. There is no outright feminist rhetoric, the female message is far more subtle yet pervasive. The entire film precedes the creation of the famous characters Pippi Longstocking or Karlson-on-the-roof.
Young Astrid becomes pregnant from a relationship with her chief editor Reinhold Bloomberg. Her mother demands that she acts in accordance with her strict religious values. Astrid gives birth in Copenhagen, leaving her baby son with Danish foster mother Marie (played by Trine Dyrholm, who won the Golden Bear two years ago) until she is able to collect him. Finally, she decides to take care of herself and her son Lasse on her own.
The film is shaped by Astrid’s relationship to two women. She finds solace with the kind Marie, while her mother only offers her harshness and bitterness. We observe Astrid fighting for acceptance as a single young mother through the dialogue with these two females. She experiences a world of sensations coming from both extremes of the female spectrum: a kind a motherly figure versus an unloving and un-motherly mother.
Alba August interprets Astrid Lindgren, a shining opportunity for a rising actor. Helmer and scribe Christensen constructs a dignified portrayal of a strong woman, without resorting to melodramatic devices. Astrid is neither a hero nor a victim, but simply a human being in development. This co-production between Sweden, Denmark and Germany has blockbuster potential, and yet it retains its humanistic and poetic core.
Becoming Astrid is showing at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival taking place right, as part of the Berlinale Special section.