Titular character Astrid became the eventual creator of beloved children’s novel Pippi Longstocking, but how she got there is far from cheery.
This Swedish-made film about the author’s formative years is a bleak take on the expectations of women, pitfalls of a deeply religious society, and the young girl who refused to conform.
It follows Astrid, who grows up with numerous siblings on her parents’ farm, with a quiet, gruff father and an intervening, difficult mother.
Though they have their quarrels, Astrid is allowed to go to a prestigious school and she gains an internship at the local newspaper, run by a man separating from his wife.
He sees Astrid’s talent, and keeps giving her more challenging assignment.
But a mutual admiration turns into a sexual entanglement with the minor Astrid, and a surprise pregnancy that alters the course of her life.
She gives up the baby after a discrete birth in Norway, and hopes to one day get him back. But not everyone in her family is on board.
Director Pernille Fischer Christensen is forceful and unflinching in this portrayal of a messy life and the woman who refuses to back down and follow convention.
Alba August is a revelation here, and owns the role. It’s worth the watch for her performance alone.