Sonja - The White Swan

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Norway | 2019 | 114 minutes | Anne Sewitsky

Despite her sugar-sweet image in several kitschy pre-WWII Hollywood musicals, in real life Norwegian skating star Sonja Henie was… difficult. A monster, in fact, who palled around with Goebbels, as this splashy biopic shows.

"She was incandescent with belief in herself," raconteur Quentin Crisp once observed after a close encounter with Joan Crawford. But judging from this superheated biopic, Norwegian starlet Sonja Henie could have given La Crawford a few lessons. Belying her sugar-sweet screen persona in a handful of kitschy pre-WWII musicals, Henie was herself a handful. Admittedly she was then, and arguably still is, the greatest female figure skater ever (three Olympic golds and 10 consecutive world championships), but her bedrock conviction that that will be a foolproof path to stardom (despite her stronger-than-lutefisk accent) leads the pixie fresh from Oslo to march into Darryl F. Zanuck's office and demand a four-picture deal. And why not? She knows her personal friendship with Joseph Goebbels will ensure a wide release for her films in Nazi Germany. She's shown to be a stunningly canny businesswoman in a man's world, parlaying her hit movies and her status as the era's highest-paid actress into endorsement deals worth millions more; she also tears the jewelry off her mother's corpse in her coffin so her brother won't get it. In Ine Marie Wilmann's ferocious performance, Henie matches her self-assurance with an equal level of self-destruction. Is comeuppance gotten in this glossy, rock-soundtracked portrait? Well, stardom based on athletic prowess obviously has a shelf life.

Director Biography
Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky was born in Oslo and graduated from the Norwegian Film School in Lillehammer. Her debut film, Happy Happy, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2011 (the first Norwegian film to win an award at Sundance) and was Norway's Academy Award® entry that same year.

Sponsored by Arrivé, First Sight Productions

  • Director: Anne Sewitsky
  • Principal Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Valene Kane, Eldar Skar, Anders Mordal, Pal Sverre Hagen, Aiden McArdle
  • Country: Norway
  • Year: 2019
  • Running Time: 114 minutes
  • Producer: Cornelia Boysen, Synnove Horsdal
  • Screenplay: Mette Marit Bolstad, Andreas Markusson
  • Cinematographers: Daniel Voldheim
  • Editors: Martin Stoltz, Christoffer Heie
  • Music: Ray Harman
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Homesick (2015); Totally True Love (2011); Happy, Happy (2010)
  • Language: English, Norwegian
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: TrustNordisk