...And that's when things take a hard left turn...as if a naked woman emerging from a white liquid bath with a tube shoved down her throat wasn't far left enough. As Elvis plays each tape, more is discovered about this hidden facility and the woman who seems to reside there. The tone is an odd mix of ethereal, creepy and gritty...and it works. To be sure, this is a dark fairytale set in our time, told in a way anyone could relate. That in itself is amazing. To tell more would be giving away the whole game, as the plot can fit into a paragraph, but in this case, less is more. Excellent acting from all points (there are only 5 actors to speak of) helps to drive the intensity and build the sense of impending dread. Elvis and Leo are doing their best to cope, and while the mystery unravels, secrets of their own spill out, making this piece feel incredibly personal while also other worldly. Helping to create this sense of creeping doom is an impressive eye for aesthetics. The small space the majority of the film takes place in seems to have ample shadows to slink in and out of..and dark rooms from which anything could emerge. The yellows cast over everything inside create a bronzey atmosphere in which we'd expect a grindhouse film to roll out, bringing carnage and terror with it. That's not exactly what you get here.
When we first meet the "Thale", she seems timid and vulnerable, but there is a fire in her eyes that would keep anyone at bay. We quickly find this "woman" doesn't need anyone's protection, though our hero Elvis will attempt to aid her anyway. Without revealing too much more, I'll just say the Thale proves she is more than capable of taking care of herself, Elvis, Leo, and a squad of mercenaries. Ethereal and mysterious gives way to angry and vengeful as the Thale shows her hidden nature, leaving me smiling from ear to ear. Fantastic stuff. Standing ovation for Silje Reinåmo who takes a role involving not one stitch of clothing and never once appears to be a victim. She exudes power, even when slid snugly under a bed. In a most excellent twist, it is Elvis and Leo from which we get vulnerability as they reveal bits of themselves they were reluctant to share earlier. This film is practically a Unicorn.
It's my hope that Thale is a film folks will tell their friends about and spread the word. Foreign
cinema has been offering some killer new ideas to a cookie cutter film world for some time now, but I fully understand why subtitles might hold some people back. Seriously...trust me when I say you get used to it!! Point of fact, when I popped in my DVD the film played with English dubbing, voiced by some emotionless hacks who seemed to be reading the content for the first time. Horrible!! I'd been sent a screening link some time back so I knew the movie was far superior in it's native language, and I encourage you to watch it this way. It's the only way to ensure you are seeing the director's true vision...and what a vision it is. On DVD it is three times as beautiful, so watching it in anything but Swedish is missing the point. Thale is slick, creepy, vicious, and starkly beautiful all at once. Track down a copy immediately!