Thursday, December 24, 2009

Maata meren alla

Land under hav / Overseas and Under Your Skin / [literal translation: Earth Under the Sea]. FI / DE (c) 2009 Silva Mysterium Oy. Co-Production with Flying Mon Filmproduktion GmbH (Berlin). P: Mika Ritalahti, Niko Ritalahti; Roshanak Behecht Nadiad. D+SC: Lenka Hellstedt - based on the novel by Riikka Ala-Harja (2003). DP: Mark Stubbs - digital intermediate: DFF. AD: Saara Joro. COST: Titta Kettunen. Makeup: Elina Laakso, Barbi Laine. M: Anna-Mari Kähärä. Theme song ”Maata meren alla”, comp. Kähärä, lyrics Lenka Hellstedt, perf. Emma Salokoski. S: Olli Huhtanen. ED: Kimmo Taavila. CAST: Amira Khalifa (Ida), Jarkko Niemi (Jore), Leena Uotila (Pipsa), Marja Packalén (Kati, Ida's mother), Matti Ristinen (Ville), Annika Ernst (Anita), Ismael Sahin (Deniz). Colour, 1,85:1, 86 min. Released by Sandrew. In Finnish, German, and English, with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Mikko Lyytikäinen / Joanna Erkkilä. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 23 Dec 2009.

I missed the beginning of this film (ice picking, the Baltic herring as the catch, the diving lesson, Beat the Devil on tv). It is the Bildungsroman of a young black Finnish seamstress Ida (Amira Khalifa) adopted from Namibia when she was three years old. The film is about a multiple clash of cultures. Black and white. Berlin and Finland. The radicals of the Sixties and the young people of today.

Ida is a foreigner in Finland, and a Finn in Berlin. The characterization of her as a black Finnish moron is realized as a parody and a caricature, a figure of a farce that fails to amuse.

The mother Kati (Marja Packalén), a welder by occupation, and a communist and a feminist since the 1960s, knows she is about to die and worries that nothing will be left of her. She is still loyal to the fundamental ideals of her youth, participating actively in the Red Cross Hunger Day fundraising. The Berlin apartment of her youth is still there and that's where Ida stays trying to figure out who she is and what she will do. Kati and Ida commit all possible mistakes in their mother-daughter relationship.

Ida is a slacker who does not know what to do with her life. Abroad she is unable to make contact and misses almost every opportunity to learn something or have a good time, although she seems to meet almost only friendly people: her neighbour (and quasi-half-sister) Anita (Annika Ernst) and the masseur of the Finnish sauna in Berlin Deniz (Ismael Sahin). Maata meren alla is a story of embarrassments.

It is true, as the film implies, that although the sauna is a Finnish word, Germans tend to be more advanced in sauna culture.

My personal experience of Berlin is that Finnish women tend to get along very well with Germans.

Following the international trend of the romantic comedy since the 1990s the only balanced person in the story is the gay friend. Matti Ristinen as Ville the diving instructor is the most sympathetic character in the film.

Something went wrong, and I don't know whether it is the way the character of Ida was written or Amira Khalifa's performance.

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