Favourably compared to the work of Ingmar Bergman, Jan Troell's film introduces us to a woman who experiences an artistic awakening after being introduced to photography. Based on real-life events, the story opens at the start of the 20th century and centres on Finnish housewife Maria Larrson (Maria Heiskanen), who struggles to care for her large brood of children and manage her abusive, alcoholic husband, Sigge. The film is beautifully shot throughout and delivers a strong message about personal integrity and the fulfilment that come from finding an artistic outlet. It's also a deeply understanding film which resists the usual clichés of violent husband melodramas.
“Beautiful, tender, truthful... The acting all around is of the highest order and Maria Heiskanen's magnificent performance is a portrait of human goodness and decency, utterly lacking in sentimentality, sanctimony or self-conscious martyrdom.”