The Girl with the Needle (2024) CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2024

May 15th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Magnus Von Horn | Cast: Vic Carmen Sonne, Trine Dyrholm, Besir Zeciri, Ava Knox Martin | Sweden, Drama

After training at the world famous film school in Lodz (Poland), Swedish director Magnus von Horn soon won international recognition in 2020 with his confident first feature Sweat a slick and scathing satire on social media celebrity.

The Girl with the Needle couldn’t be more different in tone or style but the theme is the same – sort of. A relentlessly grim atmosphere pervades this Palme d’Or hopeful, another tale of female empowerment turn of the century-style. This time set in 1919 Copenhagen where the macabre shadow and privations of the First World War still hang over Europe, affecting Denmark even though they were neutral.

Here a young girl called Karoline (Carmen Sonne) becomes reliant on all the help she can get after her husband Peter (Zeciri) disappears, suspected of being caught up in the hostilities. Karoline tries to apply for a widow’s pension but because Peter has not been technically declared dead she falls foul of the rules, according to Jorgen (Joachim Fjelstrup), the owner of the garment factory where she fetches up and whose needle give the film its gruesome title. She is soon pregnant by Jorgen who has no intention of marrying her.

Enter Dagmar (Dyrholm) a benevolent shopkeeper who purportedly helps poor mothers to find foster homes for their unwanted babies. The two bond and Karoline agrees, somewhat reluctantly, to become a wet-nurse, until it soon emerges that there is a terrible secret behind this work.

Unfolding in pristine black and white – and DoP Michal Dymek does a great job visually along with set designer Jagna Dobesz  – this is a full blown horror story with all the hallmarks of Robert Lynn’s Dr Crippen (1963) and Fritz Lang’s M (1931) not to mention Dickens or The Brothers Grimm (but this is no fairy tale). The echoing, plangent soundscape and special effects – a series of leering faces that morph from a smirk to a gurning glower –  are really sinister while feeling totally in keeping with an era fraught with human death and destruction in the trenches.  Carmen Sonne and Dyrholm, really plummet the depths of Hell to dredge up these two ghastly women: one forced, through force of circumstance, to be dreadful; the other evil incarnate.

Needles become a metaphor for the pain and suffering that they deliver throughout the film: whether it be morphine, ether or an abortion attempt. Peter soon reappears maimed and disfigured and wearing a mask and unable to eat without making disgusting noises. Another ghastly character is Dagmar’s seven-year-old ‘daughter’ Erena (Knox Martin) another evil concoction – a blond female answer to Damien from Omen II. Not for the feint of heart and certainly not for those frightened of needles. @MeredithTaylor




Copyright © 2024 Filmuforia