“We all need the Hilma within us today”: Lasse Hallström and the cast of Hilma on the Swedish painter’s biopic
Hilma brings to the screen the relatively unknown story of Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, now considered to be one of the first Western abstract artists, despite being dismissed in her lifetime due to her affinity for the spiritual. Director Lasse Hallström (of Chocolat, The Cider House Rules and ABBA music videos fame) takes his audience on a journey to discover her back story and how her identity and art evolved through the decades.
We see the many obstacles thrown in her path, not least both overt and internalised misogyny toward her work, and how she was considered an outsider for not conforming to societal expectations for women of the day. The film also details how the trauma of losing her younger sister at just ten years old prompted her connection to the spirit world, the incredible female bonds and network that allowed her space to develop her craft and themes of LGBTQ+ relationships that are often hidden from history through the letters and romance she shared with Anna Cassel.
In a deft move, Hallström employs both his daughter and wife, Tora Hallström and Lena Olin, to play the younger and older Klints, with the two playing wonderful mirror images of the artist in different moments of her life. Tora, in particular, captures with delight the artist’s free-spirited nature in her youth. Exquisitely designed sets and costumes, and a fluid sensibility that echoes the spiritual influences Klint drew upon, plus a strong supporting cast featuring both Lily Cole and Stranger Things‘s Tom Wlaschiha, give the film depth and rich texture. With the painter barely known by her death in 1944, this film, a recent documentary and a forthcoming Tate Modern exhibition suggest Klint is finally getting the recognition she deserved.
The Upcoming were lucky enough to grab some time with the director and his cast while they were in London for the premiere of the movie. Lasse, Lena and Tora spoke about working together as a family on set to bring Klint’s story to life, how the imaginative and spiritual elements that inspired the artist infuse the film and the incredible team that helped bring the period drama to life.
We also spoke with Cole, Wlaschiha and Maeve Dermody on working with director Hallström to evoke the era through beautiful costumes and sets and the themes of female friendship, being suppressed by a patriarchal society and LGBTQ+ relationships that emerge from Klint’s story.
Hilma is released in select cinemas on 28th October 2022. In early 2023, Hilma will also be available on Viaplay UK (set to launch in the UK this autumn).
Watch the trailer for Hilma here: