Writer-director Camilla Strøm Henriksen's coming-of-age drama centres on the 14-year-old who has to act as the responsible adult in her family

Film Review by Gianni Marini | 09 Sep 2019
  • Phoenix
Film title: Phoenix
Director: Camilla Strøm Henriksen
Starring: Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin, Maria Bonnevie, Sverrir Gudnason, Casper Falck-Løvås
Release date: 13 Sep
Certificate: 15

Jill (Thedin) signs for a cake. Her 14th birthday isn't for a few days, so she assumes her mother has made a mistake, and lies to her younger brother, telling him the bakery is at fault. When her mother (Bonnevie) does wake up, she hurriedly opens the cake box, sticks a sparkler in it and announces she has a job interview – celebrating something she is yet to achieve.

Phoenix is Norwegian actor Camilla Strøm Henriksen’s feature directorial debut, informed in part by her own upbringing. Jill suffers more disappointments as she consistently behaves as the responsible adult of the house while yearning for someone to care for her. Her lies become increasingly serious as she uses them to protect herself and her brother.

The film envelopes the audience in the turbulent emotions of a childhood with a depressive, alcoholic, yet loving mother. Jill’s home is cluttered with her mother’s artwork made of cloth and rope. At night the art spreads tendrils over the floor. Later it appears when Jill dreams of being saved from this life only for reality to disappoint once again. 

Released 13 Sep by Verve; certificate 15