Saturday, May 25, 2013

21 tapaa pilata avioliitto / 21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage

21 tapaa pilata avioliitto [Swedish title in Hufvudstadsbladet and in the Swedish-language section of Kino City]. FI. Dionysos Films 2013. P: Riina Hyytiä. D+SC: Johanna Vuoksenmaa. DP: Jan Nyman - 2,35:1 - post-production and DCP: Post Control, P: Petri Riikonen, definition of colour: Marko Terävä. AD: Christer Andersson. Cost: Tiina Kaukanen. Make-up and hair: Hannele Herttua. M: Kerkko Koskinen. S: Tuomas Klaavo, Mikko Mäkelä. ED: Antti Reikko. Opening credit animation D: Kalle Kotila. C: Armi Toivanen (Sanna), Essi Hellén (Aino), Aku Hirviniemi (Jouni), Riku Nieminen (Aleksi), Pamela Tola (Elli), Hannele Lauri (Eila), Vesa Vierikko (Eero), Niina Lahtinen (Johanna), Aarre Karén (a hard-of-hearing husband), Eila Roine (a hard-of-seeing wife), Miia Nuutila (Tiina), Jarkko Niemi (Lauri), Krisse Salminen (Henna), Eero Ritala (a round-headed man), Mari Perankoski (the assistent on the telephone), Frans Isotalo (Antti), Meiju Lampinen (Maija). 92 min. Released by Nordisk Film med svenska texter av Hannele Vahtera. 2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 7, Helsinki, 25 May 2013

From the pressbook: "One person does not want to fall in love. Another wants nothing but. The third one is married to the wrong woman, and the fourth one is no longer. Married, that is. Soon no one will, if the 21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage are put into practice."

Official synopsis: "Sanna (Armi Toivanen) is a divorce researcher who does not believe in marriage. Her friend Aino (Essi Hellén) does, and she believes in many other things, too, such as premonitions on the radio. Sanna's father Eero (Vesa Vierikko) believes that his wife Eila (Hannele Lauri) will come back to him, yet Eila intends to marry - another man."

"Sanna's assistent Jouni (Aku Hirviniemi) no longer believes in anything because his spouse Elli (Pamela Tola) makes life intolerable. Aleksi (Riku Nieminen) does not know what to believe because his entirely happy marriage has ended abruptly with his wife's sudden 'blossoming' outside marriage."

"When these unstable characters are unleashed anything is possible."

"21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage is a spirited comedy about the many manifestations of love."

A word from the director:

"Divorce is a direct consequence of falling in love."

"21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage is a romantic comedy about the attempts of an unromantic woman to rationalize her feelings and to scientify her dread of commitment."

"21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage is a light, generous, comical and surprising web of observations about different meanings of love, relationships and marriage to various people, but also a comforting peer support journey to those who have divorced once or more often."

"21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage is a mix of plot-driven comedy and sketchy, partly improvised snapshots from the lives of different couples. The parallel collage of narratives which comment the main story interestingly is based on the video interviews conducted by the protagonist in her profession. My aim is that each viewer could find him/herself or at least a bunch of his/her acquaintances from the ample gallery of characters of the movie (...)."

"The rhythm of the narration is on the fast side and the atmosphere is light - even or perhaps particularly when more serious topics are faced. The period is the summer, the season of the light, when, even when the people may be occasionally imperfect, the world is at its best and the light of the summer evenings and nights is at its most beautiful. The general outlook of the film is colourful, generous and fresh. There is a lot of people, life, and movement in the images as well as on the soundtrack. Against this background certain quiet moments cry out their silence, and the attempt here is to get the full emotional impact out of this contrast."

"The gallery of characters is abundant and caricatured, but with each character I try to take care that the caricature would not become unrecognizable or distorted into a clownish mask." (Johanna Vuoksenmaa at Tampere, 23 January 2012). (My translation).

This bright comedy has an extremely anti-romantic starting point. Sanna Manner (Armi Toivanen) is conducting an academic study, her dissertation, based on the hypothesis that a long marriage is an unnatural state for the modern man and woman. Sanna interviews couples on their wedding days and conducts follow-up studies on their wedding anniversaries. Her research material fully supports the hypothesis.

Sanna has also established that marriages based on convention are more durable than romantic marriages.

Sanna's life as a single woman is consistent with her convictions. She is a staunch unbeliever in marriage, in relationships, or even dating a man a second time. She wakes up in unknown men's beds and vanishes as soon as possible without even staying for morning coffee. Sex is "for one date only" with the men she meets.

21 Ways to Ruin a Marriage is the most popular Finnish film this year and has roles for many of the most popular Finnish actors, including favourites of the tv comedy favourite Putous [The Fall].    

The concept is a variation of an idea popular in contemporary (anti-)romantic comedy. This time the protagonist's conviction is backed up by formidable scientific evidence.

And when Sanna inevitably falls in love in the conclusion, the man she has found is the only exception to the rule backed by the enormous material. He is a divorcé, too, because his wife has "found herself" with another man.

The film is much better than the preview. Thanks to it I postponed the viewing of the film itself as much as I could.

The title and the structure parody the formulae of popular ladies magazines (Cosmopolitan, etc.).

Despite the brightness of Johanna Vuoksenmaa's approach and the funny and original interpretation of Armi Toivanen in the leading role I had difficulties in relating to the characters with the exception of the protagonist.

Despite the happy ending there seems to be a fundamental distrust in love in this movie. Marriages seem to be based on illusions, traditions, misunderstandings, duties, conventions, shame, pregnancy, parents' expectations, expectations of getting pregnant, and so on. Not love.

The harridan question has puzzled me in contemporary Finnish cinema. Here I would rather speak about the question of the overbearing woman. Men seem to be lost in the jungle of relationships, and this leads to a vicious circle. Men are less men, and women get even more overbearing.

I may be the only one who has recognized this structure in contemporary Finnish cinema. In my opinion this structure does not reflect Finnish life as I observe it among people I know. Might it reflect a hidden, latent structure in relationships?

The visual quality: low definition, not far from contemporary television quality. The "video inserts" have consequently a definition one step lower. Not a problem in close-ups, medium shots and interiors.

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