Hurry Slowly is the rare film that focuses its attention on the quiet times leading up to a major life change, and not the change itself. It’s slow, contemplative, and methodical in its examination of one young woman’s life, just before she starts living it.
Fiona (Amalie Ibsen Jensen) lives on an isolated island, in an even more isolated house. Her younger brother, Tom (David Jakobsen), is incapable of taking care of himself, and much of Fiona’s life is consumed by caring for him. They are all alone. We never get the full details of their familial isolation, though we do learn that they were raised by grandparents who passed away a few years ago. But this is no sob story. Fiona takes care of Tom and Tom seems to respond well to their quiet life. Fiona has a job on a ferry and her music to keep her busy when Tom is at his group home. This life seems good enough for the both of them, but Fiona has a small sense that it could be better. Knowing how well Tom does in his day school, she applies for him to live there full time.
This synopsis, though accurate, is slightly misleading about the overall feeling of Hurry Slowly. The film is far more about the small changes that lead towards the bigger movement in Fiona’s life. We see her get slightly annoyed at Tom’s reliance on her to survive. We see her light up when she sees someone her age, and the thought of adventures that the other young woman might be going on. We see Fiona contemplate a life greater than her island and beyond her home with Tom, but we see this all quietly through looks, and we hear it through song lyrics.
The visual language of Hurry Slowly matches the slow pace of Fiona’s life. The shots are wide and the takes are long, often with Fiona’s bicycle making its way from the background to the foreground. The horizon cuts many shots right in half, and we’re allowed ample time to look around Fiona’s world and take it all in, just as she does.
Coming in at just under 70 minutes, Hurry Slowly never overstays its welcome as a film where essentially nothing happens. We’re given time to get to know Fiona, get to know her days, and then we say our goodbyes. This is not a profile of a woman creating her bold new future, and Fiona is not about to toss her hat in the air à la Mary Tyler Moore, but we do see the glimmers of hopefulness in her eyes are she begins to realize that she can now soar a little more than she has before. The look at family, autonomy, and the lush landscapes make this a very comfortable getting-to-know-you with a possibly ordinary but unfledged young woman.