Friday, March 02, 2012

Tähtitaivas talon yllä / Stars Above / [Stars Above the House]

Tähtitaivas talon yllä [the Swedish title of the film in Hufvudstadsbladet]. FI © 2012 Pystymetsä Oy. PC also: Pegasus Pictures. P: Outi Rousu, Ella Piesala. Co-P (Pegasus): Snorri Thorisson. D+SC: Saara Cantell. Book quoted: James Jeans: Maailmankaikkeuden arvoitus (The Mysterious Universe, 1930). DP: Marita Hällfors - RED 4K, frame rate 24 fps. PD: Pirjo Rossi. Cost: Auli Turtiainen. Makeup: Kati Koskela. The gourmet dinner prepared by Grotesk. M: Sid Hille. S: Pietari Koskinen. Theme song: "Tähdet kertovat" (1960) (Toivo Kärki, Reino Helismaa) arr. Janne Haavisto, sung by Irina Björklund. Muska: "Paha tyttö". ED: Saevar Gudmundsson. Loc: Pornainen, Uusikaupunki. Casting: Minna Sorvoja. C: Elin Petersdottir (Salla, Tuulikki's daughter, writing her dissertation), Meri Nenonen (Tuulikki, Saima's daughter), Irina Björklund (Saima, village teacher), Senja Mäkiaho (Salla-Mari, Tuulikki's daughter as a child), Lauri Tanskanen (Ville, Salla's neighbour, a farmer and a gourmet cook), Leo Honkonen (Toivo, war invalid), Kai Vaine (Seppo, Tuulikki's boyfriend). 101 min. Released by Nordisk Film with Swedish subtitles by Hannele Vahtera. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 2, Helsinki, 2 March 2012 (day of premiere).

Set in a village in the Eastern Finnish countryside (Savolax) in three time periods: the year 1942 (WWII), the year 1978, and today. The lives of Salla, her mother Tuulikki, and her grandmother Saima are intertwined in three parallel presents.

Saima the teacher has to fight the tough homefront fight not far from the front, and her husband is not only physically absent. She finds a soulmate in the young war invalid Toivo, a brilliant student of natural science.

Tuulikki, her daughter, belongs to a free, wild and radical generation. Seppo, the father of her daughter, turns out to be no family man, and Tuulikki decides to leave to Sweden.

Salla, Tuulikki's daughter, who is writing her dissertation for a Swedish university, returns to the family house and gets help from the young son Ville of the neighbouring farm. It turns out that Salla's long term relationship with her woman partner has just ended in Sweden. Salla encourages Ville, a master cook, to start a catering business.

The structure and the concept resemble The Hours by Michael Cunningham. It is an interesting device to create a novelistic multi-character study to reflect fundamental differences in the circumstances of three generations of women. The three women have lived largely in different worlds. Yet the house remains, and the stars above it remain the same. There are even references to quantum physics inspired by the book central to the film, The Mysterious Universe by James Hopwood Jeans, a co-founder of British cosmology.

There is much to like in this rich and intelligent film. It is a character- and performance-driven movie carried impressively by the three leading actresses Irina Björklund, Meri Nenonen, and Elin Pedersdottir. During the end credits Irina Björklund sings her new interpretation of the beautiful Finnish popular song "Tähdet kertovat" ["Stars Will Tell"]. The original singer Leif Wager identified with it with a sense of play. Irina Björklund sings it in a kind of a distanced essay format, as a study of the song, rejecting identification.

Visually, the digital look of the screening does not pay full justice to the beauty of nature, and the editing is a bit choppy to my taste.

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