Saturday, November 17, 2012

Juoppohullun päiväkirja / Gloriously Wasted

FI © 2012 Dictator Films Oy. P: Aleksi Bardy, Juha Vuorinen. D: Lauri Maijala. SC: Lauri Maijala - based on the novel (1998) by Juha Vuorinen. DP: Rike Jokela. DI and DCP mastering: Post Control. AD: Markku Pätilä. Cost: Tiina Wilén. Makeup: Salla Yli-Luopa. M: Kerkko Koskinen. "Ei tippa tapa" (Irwin Goodman, Vexi Salmi). Big band music played by UMO. S: Janne Jankeri, Mika Niinimaa. ED: Harri Ylönen. C: Joonas Saartamo (Juha Berg), Krista Kosonen (Tiina), Santtu Karvonen (Kristian), Johannes Holopainen (Mikael). - With: Lauri Tilkanen, Esko Salminen, Pekka Huotari, Heidi Herala, Seppo Maijala, Niina Koponen, Tom Petäjä, Jari Pehkonen, Chelaf Abdeslam, Tuire Tuomisto, and Ylermi Rajamaa. 90 min. Released by Scanbox Finland Oy. 2K DCP of the preview cut without Swedish subtitles viewed at Matin-Tupa, Ylistaro (Filmiä ja valoa), 17 Nov 2012.
Official synopsis: "Juha Berg (Joonas Saartamo) is a 30-year-old hopeless drunk in the Kallio neighborhood of Helsinki."

"Juha doesn’t have the first intention of changing his way of life – just the opposite. He really enjoys sundry sexual relationships, adrenalin-inducing violence and, of course, alcohol for which he gets money even if by collecting bottles. But the hilarity in a drunken haze soon gets a run for its money as the passionate Juha falls in love with his AA group leader. The relationship with Tiina (Krista Kosonen) progresses quickly to dating and Juha has to make pivotal decisions."

"Juha has to begin balancing between maintaining a functional intimate relationship and his old lifestyle. Juha’s best friend Kristian (Santtu Karvonen) does his best to sabotage the relationship, and Juha’s shaky decision to stay sober is further hindered by Mikael (Johannes Holopainen), an expert on German erotica."

"But how far can you go before there is only one solution left?"

"Gloriously Wasted  is a comedy that breaks all the rules, based on the first part of Juha Vuorinen’s immensely popular Gloriously Wasted series of books. The movie was directed and written for the screen by the highly successful theater director Lauri Maijala, and produced by Aleksi Bardy and Juha Vuorinen."

From Wikipedia: Juoppohullun päiväkirja [The Diary of a Drunken Maniac], originating from a series of books by Juha Vuorinen, is a Finnish book series following the drunken rampage of Juha Berg and his friends. First the books were self-published, subsequently they were published by Vuorinen's Diktaattori publishing company. Based on the stories there have been a radioplay and stage adaptations for the theatre. The stories have been translated into Swedish (Dilledagboken) and Estonian (Joomahullu Päevaraamat). Kristian has received spin-off stories of his own. There have been five books so far (from 1998 till 2005), a cd release, and a Juoppis Leffapokkari companion book to the movie.

The drunken rampage of Juha Berg is the story of this movie, boldly stylized, heavily expressionistic, with a lot of caveman energy, an outburst of rage and frustration. It's a dance macabre, a death dance with drinking as a form of suicide. I was about to say "slow suicide" but actually the way the hard liquor is consumed here can kill quickly.

There is no explanation, no background, no psychology behind the desperate drinking spree.

The acting style: no holds barred. Even Krista Kosonen who starts as a nice and understanding AA leader turns into an original incarnation of the current dominating female character in Finnish cinema: the harridan. Here at least her change is perfectly understandable.

The style of the rampage is mostly farcical. Some scenes represent gallows humour literally. There are slapstick scenes inspired by classics (Cops by Buster Keaton). Scatology is not avoided. The film moves at times in Farrelly Brothers territory. In the conclusion there is a musical production number to the evergreen "Ei tippa tapa" ["A Drop Doesn't Kill"].

The colour is strong, at times garish. There is sometimes strong overhead lighting like in scenes of 1940s film noir. Split screen is used. There are several instances of inspired composition, for instance in the sequence where the camera moves through the window and back.

The dream sequences towards the end are stark, original and really dream-like (the high angle, the ice, the snow-filled room, the shivering rabbit). The final image: his boat floating in space.  

This is my first encounter with Juha Vuorinen's fiction, and I don't know what to think.

I have too much first hand experience of friends who have died or whose life has been ruined by drinking. Also the lives of those around them, in private life and in working life, have been ruined, sometimes beyond repair. This is a professional disease of artists, actors, cineastes, musicians, writers, and journalists. I blame myself constantly that I have not known how to intervene when I now realize I should have. I know it's not my fault, but real friends, a circle of them, can make a difference. Sorry, for me this is no laughing matter. 

Impressive in the movie is the brutal, primitive life-force struggling with the death drive. Alcohol here is the spirit of death, finally victorious, but not before a hard struggle.

A memorable detail: on tv there is Eight Deadly Shots, a classic film about alcoholism anchored in society, the big structural change of urbanization that transformed Finland forever. In Juoppohullun päiväkirja, there seems to be no reason or background to drinking.

Visual quality: no quarrel with the way the stylized visuals were projected digitally.

No comments: