All That Matters Is Past

An ill-fated love affair unfolds in the fields and forests of the Norwegian countryside in this belabored drama.

An ill-fated love affair unfolds in the fields and forests of the Norwegian countryside in belabored drama “All That Matters Is Past,” helmer-writer Sara Johnsen’s third feature. The non-chronological narrative flows oddly — and a few steps ahead of the voiceover narration of a policewoman (Maria Heiskanen), who tries to solve the brutal double murder shown in the opening moments. With emotions and relationships depicted as forces of nature rather than motivated by any psychological logic, the pic plays like ersatz Terrence Malick. Lyrical but frequently gruesome visuals (considerable blood, animal slaughter) augur fest rather than theatrical play offshore.

When they meet as kids, Janne (Maria Bonnevie) immediately falls for William (Kristoffer Joner), inciting the jealousy of his disturbed older brother Ruud (David Dencik). The youngsters’ naked communing with nature gives way to rape, childbirth (with gratuitous shots of the baby’s head crowning) kidnapping and a tragic accident. And that’s just while they’re teenagers. Many years later, William re-enters Janne’s life, and they retreat to the forest to re-create their youthful romance, but Ruud still proves an obstacle to their happiness. Thesps look uncomfortable, but tech credits are solid.

All That Matters Is Past

Norway - Denmark - Sweden

  • Production: A Nordisk Filmdistribusjon release (in Norway) of a 4 1/2 Fiksjon production in co-production with Bob Film Sweden, Windelov/Lassen in association with Nordisk Film Shortcut, Storm Studio, Storyline Studios, NRK, DR, SVT with the support of Norwegian Film Institute, Eurimages, Nordisk Film and TV Fund, Swedish Film Institute. (International sales: TrustNordisk, Hvidovre, Denmark.) Produced by Turid Oversveen. Executive producers, Hakon Overas, Karin Julsrud, Pal Sletaune, Marius Holst, Lone Korslund. Co-producers, Anna Croneman, Vibeke Windelov, Stinna Lassen. Directed, written by Sara Johnsen.
  • Crew: Camera (color, 16mm, 35mm), John Andreas Andersen; editor, Zaklina Stojcevska; music, Fernando Velazquez; production designer, Jorgen Stangebye Larsen; costume designer, Anne Pedersen; sound (Dolby Digital 5.1), Christian Schaanning. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 6, 2012. Running time: 105 MIN.
  • With: With: Maria Bonnevie, Kristoffer Joner, David Dencik, Maria Heiskanen. (Norwegian, Swedish, English dialogue)