It’s Only Make Believe

Film review

Olympia, Wash.

Synopsis: A young woman goes to prison for murder. After being released back into Norwegian society, she works to create a new life for her and her now 9-year-old daughter. But a dark past surges back to haunt her, threatening both of their lives.

Who knew Norway had such a seamy underbelly? Such a stone cold, silly, sick sweaty, seamy underbelly.

But then again, ruthless drug dealers will do that to any otherwise respectable country, won’t they?

Enter the well-done 2013 Norwegian crime drama Eventyrland, It’s Only Make Believe. A youthful and boneheaded crime committed by the mother is visited upon the daughter, threatening to demolish the ideal family life the former has been fantasizing about during and after nearly a decade in the slammer.

Silje Salomonsen as Jenny may not be your typical action heroine. But when her baby girl is threatened by former gang mates, the mama bear within is unleashed upon the goons without. And, holy crap, this ain’t no “down fjord” gal, partner. Jenny takes it every shred as fiercely as she gives it to these evil bastards. Zero back down about her.

Writer/director Arild Østin Ommundsen constructs closing moments here awash in ambiguity. Is Jenny’s dream of domestic bliss now fully realized? Or, as she has been with that dollhouse in her apartment, is she only perpetuating “playing house?”

Any way one perceives it, one time and time again tested truth best be believed.

Crime, and the collateral devastation that inevitably churns in it’s filthy wake, doesn’t pay for any of those invested.

By choice or by blood.

You can watch the livestream of John Smistad’s podcast interview series show, CONVERSATIONS WITH “THE QUICK FLICK CRITIC,” every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. EST at

This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

Avatar photo

John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at