Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kielletty hedelmä / Forbidden Fruit

Förbjuden frukt. FI / SE (c) 2009 Helsinki-Filmi / Anagram Produktion. P: Aleksi Bardy. D: Dome Karukoski. Ass. D: Mark Lwoff. SC: Aleksi Bardy. DP: Tuomo Hutri - digital intermediate: The Chimney Pot. PD: Antti Mattila, Antti Nikkinen. COST: Anna Vilppunen. Make-up: Kati Koskela. M: Adam Nordén. S: Mattias Eklund. ED: Harri Ylönen. CAST: Amanda Pilke (Maria), Marjut Maristo (Raakel), Malla Malmivaara (Eeva), Joel Mäkinen (Toni), Jarkko Nemi (Jussi), Olavi Uusivirta (Johannes), Timo Tikka (Luukas), Jani Volanen (Ilari), Teemu Ojanne (Mäki), Heikki Nousiainen (Joki), Tapio Liinoja (Laakso), Tommi Korpela (the preacher at the Suviseurat summer revival meeting). Colour, 2,35:1, 104 min. Distributed by Sandrew. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 22 Dec 2009.

The locations of the film include the interiors of Cinema Orion in three scenes. The exterior of the cinema is that of Cinema Diana. These two belong to the oldest continuously active cinemas in Helsinki.

The old believers called the Laestadians are an important religious sect in Finland, especially in Northern Ostrobothnia. They have large families, they are honest and successful businesspeople, and they obey old religious commandments such as the prohibition of the image as faithfully as possible.

Kielletty hedelmä is the story of three sisters who leave their Laestadian family in Liminka and discover the forbidden urban world of Helsinki.

Eeva (Malla Malmivaara) has already been rejected by the family and left for Helsinki because she is lesbian. Maria (Amanda Pilke) is curious to see what is going on there. Raakel (Marjut Maristo) goes to look after her.

Things such as make-up, television, movies, even the mildest alcoholic drinks such as cider, discos, pop music, holding hands with a boy, kissing, petting, and premarital sex are adventures for them.

The film-makers have a critical view about the stern religious movement which forbids normal things of contemporary life. It would be interesting to hear a Laestadian comment this film, but probably no Laestadian has seen it because of their prohibition of television and the cinema. They accept computers, though, because of their value in education and industry.

The view of Laestadianism is not a one-sided caricature. The Laestadians are shown as protective, caring, loving, and disciplined people. The most impressive shot of the film is an aerial view of the Suviseurat, the legendary summer revival meeting of the Laestadians. Over one hundred thousand people assemble in an inspiring and well-organized way that could be a model for anybody.

The contrast of the virtuous country life and the sinfulness of the city was a foundation of Finnish cinema during the studio era, for example in films produced by Erkki Karu or T.J. Särkkä. The contrast was exaggerated to dimensions of unintentional parody by Teuvo Tulio.

Kielletty hedelmä returns to the same traditional contrast, which exists today only in special circumstances such as with the Laestadians. There are aspects in the film that are new and perplexing.

The film shows that urban freedom can also mean solitude and indifference.

In the end, the rebel sister Maria returns to the Laestadian community, and the responsible sister Raakel leaves it.

The director Dome Karukoski is in full command of all aspects of his third film. He has a special gift to find good young actors. I look forward to the future work of all of them.

No comments: