Saturday, September 03, 2011

Pussikaljaelokuva / [Bag Beer Movie]

Påsakaljafilmen. FI © 2011 Kinotar. P: Lasse Saarinen, Risto Salomaa. D: Ville Jankeri. SC: Ville Jankeri, Mikko Rimminen - based on the novel Pussikaljaromaani (2004) by Mikko Rimminen. DP: Jarkko T. Laine - post production and digital cinema mastering: Generator Post. AD: Markku Pätilä. Cost: Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila. Make-up: Marjut Samulin. M: Marko Nyberg. S: Janne Jankeri. ED: Harri Ylönen. Loc: Kallio and surrounding districts of Helsinki. Cast: Jussi Nikkilä (Marsalkka), Ylermi Rajamaa (Lihi), Eero Milonoff (Henninen), Marjut Maristo (Laura), Tytti Junna (Anna), Niilo Syväoja (Erno), Veera Tapper (Veera), Paavo Kinnunen (Esa). In supporting roles: Heikki Alanko (Scoundler), Wanda Dubiel (Tuula), Kaarina Hazard (flea market saleswoman), Tuukka Huttunen (young cop), Hannu Kivioja (surprise bag man), Rea Mauranen (Rakel), Konsta Mäkelä (Jari), Sari Puumalainen (woman 1), Janne Reinikainen (book and shoe merchant), Aimo Räsänen (entrepreneur), Valtteri Simonen (Kotilainen), Timo Tuominen (old cop). 80 min. A Nordisk release, DCP 2K without Swedish subtitles viewed at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki.

Pussikaljaromaani [Bag Beer Novel] by Mikko Rimminen is an acclaimed modern Finnish novel which has been compared with top works in Finnish literary history such as Alastalon salissa by Volter Kilpi and Putkinotko by Joel Lehtonen. It is the story of one day in the lives of three young men in the district of Kallio in Helsinki. The novel is highly regarded for its literary quality, its sense of humour, its stream of consciousness narration and its account of people on the verge of being marginalized from society. The mission of the three protagonists is to get to play dice and receive at least a bit of affection. Nothing happens, but the conversation is funny and witty. Beer is consumed and attractive girls are seen, but nothing happens with them, either. There have been two theatre adaptations of the novel.

I have not read the novel (but I realize I would like to so) nor seen the theatre adaptations. The first comparisons that spring to mind are, in Finland, Dome Karukoski's Napapiirin sankarit [Heroes of the Polar Circle], also a humoristic modern story of young men on the verge of being marginalized from society. Internationally, a point of comparison might be Federico Fellini's first fully personal masterpiece, I vitelloni.

Pussikaljaelokuva is Ville Jankeri's debut feature film. His touch is assured. The subject matter might be challenging because there is no action, but the approach of the movie is character-driven, and as such it is never boring. There is a sense of real life. Ville Jankeri's approach to realism is balanced. He is interested neither in naturalism nor stylization. The viewpoint is to follow the wit, the spirit and the sense of humour of the three young men. There is no background to them.

The main strength of this movie is in the performances, which ring true. The other strength is the sense of milieu, which I happen to know. I have lived in Kallio at the Neljäs linja (the Fourth Line) in my childhood (and elsewhere in Kallio later), and the bus stop at Karhupuisto (Bear Park) was where I took the bus to school if I didn't walk through Hakaniemi. Now since two years our KAVA office is in Sörnäinen, a few blocks from the Kurvi (the Curve), prominent in the movie.

There is no explanation to the condition of the young men. This is not a film à thèse. But they are memorable characters, and they linger in my mind.

No comments: