Friday, September 09, 2011

Iris

Iris. FI /SE © 2011 Långfilm Productions Finland. PC: Angel Motion Pictures. P: Mats Långbacka. D: Ulrika Bengts. SC: Angela Pearce, Matt Walker. DP: Robert Nordström. AD: Cian Bornebusch, Katariina Lume. Cost: Riitta Peteri, Heidi Wikar. Makeup: Angela Pearce. M: Peter Hägerstrand. S: Risto Iissalo. ED: Tuomo Leino, Sofia Lindgren. Loc: Björkör, Föglö (the Åland islands, Finland). Casting: Pearce Walker. Cast: Magnus Krepper (Bruno), Emmi Pesonen (Helena), Agnes Koskinen (Iris), Marika Parkkomäki (Jolanda), Robert Enckell (post master / Death), Oskar Pöysti (Samuel), Maria Salomaa (Ester), Pia Runnakko (Selma), David Sigfridsson (Marius), Erik Lönngren (Albert), Richard Hägerstrand (Erik), Eleonora Andersson (Sofia), Stella Hägerstrand (dead baby). 85 min. Original in Swedish. Released by Sandrew Metronome Distribution with Finnish subtitles by Anna-Leea Kaila. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 6, Helsinki, 9 Sep 2011.

My translation from the official synopsis: "The year is 1890. Iris is eight years old, and she lives in Stockholm with her mother Ester who is a painter. Her father is dead. Iris has been looking forward to accompany her mother to Paris, to the opening of her exhibition, but to her big disappointment she must stay home. And when the initial babysitter plans go awry, Iris is rushed to the Åland islands in a place of which Iris knows nothing but where she discovers her roots and where she grows into a child which she has never been before. Iris has been an only child in a Stockholm city milieu, affiliated with artist circles. Now she lands into the archipelago of Finland (then an autonomous duchy within the Russian Empire) where life is poor and simple. The clash of the cultures is huge, and for the first time in her life Iris has to establish relationships with other children. She has to fight to find her place in the new surroundings."

Ulrika Bengts is an experienced film-maker from whom I have seen at least her previous (and first) theatrically released movie, the one hour long feature Goodbye Gibraltar (1993), a road movie with an original approach and a powerful cinematography.

This is a little girl's growing-up story based on an original story and realized with an assured touch. The movie is constantly interesting and surprising. The sentence "Man får lov att klara sig" ["One needs to find a way to make things work out", this translation misses the flavour of the original sentence] stays in my mind as a crystallization of this film's theme. The milieu and the children's friendship and adventures remind me of Astrid Lindgren's Vi på Saltkråkan (We on Sea Crow Island / Saariston lapset) stories and the excellent films based on them, but there is no imitation here. I like the island ambience of this movie. Somebody might think it is too beautiful, but what can one do. The music score is uninspired, but the cinematography is strong again. I don't immediately remember other feature films shot on the Åland islands. I predict this movie will have lasting value.

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