Becoming Astrid Opens this weekend in NYC and LA.
The teenaged Astrid Lindgren (Alba August) leads a carefree life with her family in rural Sweden. Eager to break free from her strict religious upbringing, she accepts an internship at a local newspaper where she attracts the attention of its married editor, Blomberg (Henrik Rafaelsen). When Astrid becomes pregnant, she is forced to leave her childhood home for Copenhagen to secretly give birth to a son, Lasse, whom she reluctantly leaves with a foster mother, Marie (Trine Dyrholm). Astrid goes into self-imposed exile in Stockholm, refusing Blomberg’s offer of marriage but saving up her paltry salary for visits to see her son. When Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her child. In spite of her struggles, she emerges with a newfound courage that will form the foundation of a vast and beloved body of work.
Becoming Astrid opens with the aged author playing back cassettes school children have sent her, thanking her for her writings. The film then brings us into Astrid’s young life. Everything you think you know is going to unfold changes as the truth of her history comes out. It’s both a coming of age story as well as a harrowing journey into adulthood. While there are charmed moments, she is a young girl seduced by my older man. Unlike most he wants to pursue a relationship with Astrid which she eventually grows out of. Her mothers words of “playing house” to his other children, while her son has been away in Denmark for his first year hits young Astrid hard. We watch her come into her own power as a woman. She perseveres and struggles to be a single mother with a very religious family. Eventually her parents come around, but more importantly Astrid grows into herself. She grows into motherhood and we meet her future husband in the film as well. Though he is not a central plot point, his kindness is evident. The film concludes with her youth behind her, and her future before her. We don’t get to see her writing Pippi Longstocking, there is a sweet afterword however.
This film is a heartfelt look at the struggles of becoming a woman. Coming into your own regardless of gender is a daunting task. Coming into your own when you have a child, and a family who wishes to keep it secret is almost impossible. But despite it all, Astrid strikes out on her own, gets a job, and goes on to be a single mother like many before her. Despite not having the financial stability in the beginning or her family’s emotional support, she endeavors on. Perhaps it’s that very spirit that lit the fire within Pippi which has inspired millions of children around the globe. Don’t miss Becoming Astrid, it’s relatable, melancholy and beautiful all at once.