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As In Heaven – TIFF21

as-in-heaven

As In Heaven – TIFF21

Synopsis:
On a farm in the late 1800s an intense waiting begins when a mother goes into a complicated labour, and 14-year-old Lise must prepare herself for a night that may change her life forever.
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A young woman's faith is challenged over the course of a tragic night in . Lise () is the oldest child living on a 19th-century farm, who is preparing to go away to school, a choice supported by Lise's mother Anna (), but not so much by her absentee father Anders (). However, the pregnant Anna suddenly goes into very violent labour and the housekeeper Old Sine () refuses to call a doctor, putting her faith in the Lord's plan. Over the course of a very tense night, Lise begins to doubt her family's trust in God.

As In Heaven is the debut film by writer/director Tea Lindeburg, based on the novel by Marie Bregendahl. The film kicks off in a very biblical fashion, as the teenage protagonist Lise has a dream involving an approaching storm of blood. This sets in stage for a major crisis of faith, as Lise begins to wonder if she is being punished for taking her mother's silver hairpiece or her romantic feelings for the farmhand Jens Peter (). As the family holds vigil over Lise's ailing mother Anna over the course of the night, the trajectory of the young woman's life is changed forever.

Despite the film's 19th century setting, As In Heaven ends up being a timely commentary on the debate between blind faith vs trust in science and medicine. However, the period setting does add some extra stakes for the protagonist of Lise, whose future greatly depends on whether or not her mother survives the night since there are not many opportunities for women during this setting, other than work on the farm and birth children. Altogether, As In Heaven is a memorable debut from Tea Lindeburg.

As in Heaven is screening as part of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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