The Lion Woman: Netflix ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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Image is a photo montage of scenes from The Lion Woman. The central picture is the theatrical poster for the film.

🇳🇴 The Lion Woman 🇳🇴

The Lion Woman (2016) is a Norwegian drama film available on Netflix. 1 hr 57 min. 12 Cert U.K. Available with subtitles and dubbing.


“A Norwegian girl suffers from an unrecognisable illness that completely covers her body in hair. She navigates through life hidden in the shadows, ashamed of her rare affliction.”


Rolf Lassgård as Gustav
Kjersti Tveterås as Hannah
Aurora Lindseth-Løkka as Eva (7)
Mathilde Thomine Storm as Eva (14)
Ida Ursin-Holm as Eva (23)
Karen-Lise Mynster as Mrs Birgeson
Lars Knutzon as Professor Stroem
Kåre Conradi as Jahnn
Rolf Kristian Larsen as Sparky
Lisa Loven Kongsli as Ruth
Henrik Mestad as Swammerdamm
Ken Duken as Andrej


Director: Vibeke Idsøe
Cinematographer: Dan Lausten
Writers: Vibeke Idsøe
Production Designers: Karl Júlíusson & Endre Skandfer
Music: Uno Helmersson
Make-up: 41 listed as make-up artists etc.


This film is based upon the novel The Lion Woman by Erik Fosnes Hansen.

Uno Helmersson was also the composer for 22 July and The Bridge (Bron/Broen)

Dan Lausten was the cinematographer on such productions as John Wick: Chapter 3 and Chapter 2, The Shape of Water, Crimson Peak, 1864 and Headhunter. He has been nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and has won multiple Bodil and Robert Awards.

With a budget of 80 million NOK, The Lion Woman was the biggest Norwegian film production since Kon-Tiki, which had a budget of 93 million NOK.


I don’t often watch and review films that have a more family-friendly certification so I thought it was time that I did so. Another draw of The Lion Woman was the cast which includes the never disappointing Rolf Lassgård but also personal favourites Kåre Conradi and Henrik Mestad.

The story itself is taken from a novel of the same name and the decision to pitch this towards 12 years and over obviously affects some of the ways the story plays out on screen. Nevertheless, I do not feel that this adversely affects the overall effect of this movie.

The story of Eva is unusual and allows the viewer to appreciate what it can be like for those either born who are “different” or who through a later illness or accident become “different”. How the person perceives themself, how others who are “different” find their way in the world and their route to happiness (or at least contentment).

For some, this is through the strength of being within a community of others who are different (in this story those who are part of the travelling show). For others that may be a temporary stop on the way to a life where they do not need that but rather where they embrace their difference in “normal” society. In the case of Eva, this is possible through her gift for mathematics.

This movie also shows us the various reactions of those who are either family or friends or part of the community towards the one who is different is also explored very well. We see Eva’s father, a man in the depths of grief, at first totally reject the baby but later accepting her a little more but being ashamed and fearful and still later accepting her more fully. He engages in practices that can certainly be seen as abuse but these lessen as she grows up. He is driven to do things he would not ordinarily have considered doing but he does not mean harm.

I thought all the performances in The Lion Woman were very strong, and that includes the child actors. It cannot have been easy when fully made up to be on-set and produce these performances. Rolf Lassgård perfectly balances the contradictions that abound in his role. I can see why Kjersti Tveterås’s portrayal of Hannah is award-worthy, her range is very impressive. Another small but standout performance for me was the German actor Ken Duken as Andrej (I can only imagine how long he must have spent on makeup before going on-set).

As to be expected with a cinematographer such as Dan Lausten this aspect along with the production design is beautiful. It makes a change to watch a Nordic film that has a more saturated palette than is the norm (it’s not known as “Noir” for nothing is it). The costumes are gorgeous and the music fits the era and the various scenes perfectly. I am surprised that the Make-Up Department on this production did not receive any recognition because their work is outstanding.

My overall feelings about this movie are that it is a moving story that is well-told and which suggests darker events without being graphic. Could it have been darker? Most certainly but it does work well. I loved the scenes with the members of the travelling show along with those between Eva, her father and Hannah along with Sparky. I did think some aspects, such as the local newspaper reporting, could have been more fully developed (but perhaps that is coloured by my always wishing for Kåre Conradi and Henrik Mestad to have more screen time). The Lion Woman certainly hits emotional chords upon occasion and may have made my eyes leak and my head to shake in mild horror at various times.

This film is clearly not just about physical differences, even though that is the main focus of this movie, and it does make you think about your own reactions to those who are different.

Overall I would recommend The Lion Woman as worth watching within the constraints of the certification. If you want something that is darker, grittier and more disturbing than this which is ultimately uplifting then it may not be for you.


The Lion Woman was nominated for Amanda Awards in 2017:
Best Supporting Actress ~ Kjersti Tveterås
Best Production Design ~ Karl Júlíusson, Filmkameratene A/S, Gifted Films

And a Kanonprizen at the Trondheim International Film Festival 2017 for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role ~ Kjersti Tveterås


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