“Thelma,” a reserved but piercing supernatural coming-of-age drama from director Joachim Trier (“Oslo, August 31st”), begins with a young girl hunting a deer with her father in the snow. Her eyes fixed on the oblivious animal, the girl doesn’t see that for a brief yet unmistakable moment her father has the rifle aimed at her. Well, then!
Except for a few key flashbacks such as that one, “Thelma” is about the title character as a college freshman (played by Eili Harboe), away for the first time from her controlling, fundamentalist Christian parents. Martha, socially awkward and mocked for her sheltered background, is relieved when she’s befriended by cool girl Anja (Okay Kaya), but alarmed by the sudden onset of occasional, inexplicable seizures accompanied by mental acuity and powers she doesn’t understand.
Thematically, “Thelma” is reminiscent of “Raw” (which had cannibalism as sexual-awakening metaphor) and “Carrie” (the repressed girl discovering what she’s capable of), enhanced by Trier’s intimate direction and Harboe’s intense central performance. If it drags a bit, it’s worth it to gobble up the morsels about Thelma and her family’s history that bring the story all together.
B (1 hr., 56 min.; Norwegian with subtitles; )