Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin, Maria Bonnevie, Sverrir Gudnason
Norwegian writer-director Camilla Strøm Henriksen’s startingly impressive feature debut premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. Executive produced by director David Yates (Harry Potter), it mixes elements of fantasy with kitchen-sink drama in an inventive way.
From a young age, Jill (a mesmerising Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin) has been the responsible adult in her family, caring for her younger brother Bo (Casper Falck-Løvás) and her mentally unstable, alcoholic mother Astrid (Maria Bonnevie). But the news that their estranged musician father Nils (Sverrir Gudnason) will visit on Jill’s birthday gives a her much needed light at the end of the tunnel; and when the family is struck by tragedy, she keeps it a secret.
Fearlessly charting the horror of parental substance abuse and mental illness, Phoenix is also eloquent on the pain of being forced to grow up too quickly: showing Jill as resourceful and resilient, but also touchingly desperate to hold on to her childhood. Courageous and moving, it marks its director out as one to watch.