Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Other Side of Sunday

Go To

The Other Side of Sunday is a 1996 film from Norway, directed by Berit Nesheim.

Maria (Marie Thiessen) is a 16-year-old girl living in rural Norway in an indefinite time frame that appears to be the late 1950s. She's the daughter of the town minister, Johannes. While her father is a very strict religious fundamentalist—no piano playing on Sunday, no wearing of lipstick or earrings—Maria is a free spirit. She questions the religious dogma that her father drones out every Sunday, regarding the "640 hours" she's spent in confirmation class as a waste of time.

She is also dealing with her blooming sexuality, occasionally experimenting with lipstick, stuffing her bra, going to hangout spots where the teens of the town smoke cigarettes and feel each other up. In this she is encouraged by Mrs. Tunheim, secretary of her father's church, and one of the few fellow rebels in their staid, dull town. Eventually Maria finds out that Mrs. Tunheim has a secret.



  • Coming of Age Story: A teenaged girl who is both horny and not religious expressing herself in a town where chastity and Christianity are both mandatory.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Maria only gets as far as rubbing her breasts while she reads some of the sexier passages from the Bible's Song of Songs.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Maria's mother is ill with—something. She's taken away for a while, but returns. It kind of seems like she might have tuberculosis, but she never has Blood from the Mouth or an Incurable Cough of Death.
  • Dramatic Drop: Maria's brother Olav reports that Mrs. Tunheim, who also teaches school, didn't show up for class. Maria, who knows that Mrs. Tunheim was talking about being tired "deep inside", instantly knows what has happened. She drops her dish to the floor and it shatters.
  • Advertisement:
  • Driven to Suicide: After Johannes breaks off their affair, Mrs. Tunheim drowns herself in the river.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first scene has Maria playing the family piano. Her father barks that playing piano is not allowed on Sunday. When Maria doesn't stop, her father angrily slams down the keyboard cover. Their personalities and the dynamic between them is established.
  • Fake Boobs: An insecure Maria stuffs her bra. When the toilet paper falls out, the young man who picks it up (who after all just wants to get laid) says it's no big deal.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: On Maria's face, after she has rejected her father's church and is walking down the road, apparently leaving town.
  • Inner Monologue: Heard from a bored out of her mind Maria in church, when she thinks about how much she hates it, how she can't stand all the gray old people there, and how she wishes she were somewhere else.
    Maria: Dear God, make the priest fart, so the whole congregation jumps.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Ends with a scene where Maria, having rejected Christianity and conformity, very symbolically undoes her ponytail and shakes out her lovely hair, as she walks out of town.
  • Pet the Dog: Johannes the domineering Bible-thumper has a scene where he comes into Maria's bedroom, apologizes, and admits that he can be over-strict. This reveals that while he's definitely The Fundamentalist he isn't a Sinister Minister; he loves Maria in his own way and is trying to do what he thinks is right.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Maria reads the Song of Songs, definitely the most porn-y part of the Bible, and doubtlessly the sexiest thing a young woman could find in rural 1950s Norway.
  • Sexy Priest: The handsome young priest visiting town, who is teaching the confirmation classes. His conversation with Maria is thick with sexual tension as he asks her about her lack of faith. They kiss, the young priest pulls back, and she slaps him.
  • Skinnydipping: Maria recognizes Mrs. Tunheim as a kindred spirit when she sees Mrs. Tunheim swimming naked in the river. Later Maria does the same.
  • Small Town Boredom: Maria longs to burst out of the narrow-minded conformity of her small hometown.
    Mrs. Tunheim: Don't let them stop you. They have stopped so many.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The rebellious teens of the town ostentatiously smoke cigarettes as they hang out together.
  • Talk About That Thing: In the first scene overbearing Johannes slams down the cover on the piano Maria is playing, because piano on Sunday is not allowed. Maria's mom then tries to come up with an excuse to get Maria out of the room.
    Mom: Maria, go and help Anna [Maria's younger sister] get dressed.
    Anna: I am finished!
    Mom: Go out all the same.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Maria barfs by the riverbank after watching people combing the river in search of Mrs. Tunheim's body.