Sunday, January 08, 2012

Varasto / The Storage

Lagret. FI © 2011 Kinosto. EX: Taru Mäkelä, Jouko Seppälä. P: Markku Tuurna. D: Taru Mäkelä. SC: Veli-Pekka Hänninen - based on the novel (1998) by Arto Salminen; there is also an acclaimed theatrical adaptation (2005) based on the novel. DP: Jouko Seppälä - camera: RED ONE - aspect ratio: 16:9 - screening copies: DCP and 35 mm at 1:85. AD: Tiina Paavilainen. Cost: Merja Väisänen. Makeup: Anne Airaksinen. M: Raoul Björkenheim. S: Kyösti Väntänen. ED: Tuuli Kuittinen. Loc: Helsinki. CAST: Kari-Pekka Toivonen (Rousku), Minttu Mustakallio (Karita), Aku Hirviniemi (Raninen), Esko Salminen (Kataja), Juha Muje (store manager), Hannele Lauri (Aino), Vesa Vierikko (Jylhäkorpi), Jope Ruonansuu (Ykä), Tomi Lauri (Rofa), Vesa-Matti Loiri (Mynttinen). Bit parts: Elina Knihtilä, Pirkko Hämäläinen, Vera Kiiskinen. 100 min. A Nordisk Film release. 2K DCP without Swedish subtitles viewed at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki, 8 Jan 2012.

"The wind was blowing because the elm branches were swaying. Or so one might think but it was not so. The branches were swaying because there was a wind."
- Arto Salminen in his novel Varasto

From the production information: "Varasto is a lusty, urban comedy about working people. The characters are tough, uneducated realists. They will never build a career but they work hard and never fail to give an answer. The men are men: they express their affection with blunt words and channel their rebellion into senseless gags. There are also two strong and quick-witted women: Karita and her mother are no yes women. Arto Salminen's source novel is a classical coming-of-age story where an immature young man grows -  involuntarily - into love."

"Synopsis. Antero Rousku is a storeman in a paint store. His job requires raw muscle power, mixing paints and carrying house repair materials around to earn his daily bread. But the basic salary is not enough for Rousku. He also sells a lot of stuff on the side from the storeroom directly to Jylhäkorpi, a frequent visitor, bypassing company bookkeeping."

"Rousku's colleague in the cellar storeroom is Raninen whose life consists of work, quarreling with his wife, and lottery. Raninen wants to win the main prize but he wants to have the right numbers in exactly the order in which they appear from the lottery machine. Raninen is not the sharpest pencil in the pencil box."

"Rousku's freedom is threatened by his relationship to the saleswoman Karita. Rousku wants to keep a distance to the woman except in bed. Karita has decided otherwise." (From the production information, translation mine.)

Arto Salminen (1959-2005) was one of the most acclaimed contemporary Finnish novelists. With a brilliant command of language and a black sense of humour he discussed the life of the newly poor, the outcasts and the not so successful people in the neoliberalistic society.

Taru Mäkelä and Arto Salminen were schoolmates, Taru had directed a theatre adaptation of another Arto Salminen novel, Paskateoria, and she had seen theatre interpretations of Varasto.

Taru Mäkelä I have learned to know as the director of serious documentary films such as Lotat, Daavid, and Saalis. Because I am not familiar with her work in television and in the theatre the assured comedy touch of Varasto took me by surprise.

In the screening the audience responded to the comedy immediately. The punchlines are well timed, and the performances blend together in a seamless ensemble which is necessary for a comedy like this to succeed.

We laugh, but we laugh with these people who are not the winners in the current desolate battle for survival. Some of the jokes are grim such as the one where Rousku attempts to poison Karita's yoghurt with double hormone medicine treatment to have her pregnancy discontinued. The male store manager (Juha Muje) eats the yoghurt instead with surprising results. The big storeroom thief Jylhäkorpi seems to be an ex-Brezhnevian communist whose mobile phone tune is L'Internationale. The character of Ykä is a memorable satirical vignette of a man permanently marginalized and stigmatized by unemployment.

The movie starts and begins with a close-up of storeroom gloves. A zoom into their black dots is the space odyssey of the have-nots.

At first sight Varasto is a well-made situation and character comedy. On second thought it is a successful and topical social satire.

The visual look of the 2K DCP is clean and bright, sometimes perhaps emulating the colour world of the house paints mixed in the storeroom. The outdoors winter footage looks fine on digital.

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