Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kerron sinulle kaiken / Open Up to Me

Låt mig berätta. FI © 2013 Edith Film. P: Liisa Penttilä. D+SC: Simo Halinen. DP: Hena Blomberg. Digital post-production: James Post Oy (Sami Haartemo, image processing. - Pasi Mäkelä, colour grading. - Tommi Gröhn, DCP mastering. - Petteri Linnus, post producer). AD: Sanna-Mari Pirkola. Cost: Riitta-Maria Vehman. Makeup: Kati Koskela. M: Jarmo Saari. Song: "Hyvännäköinen" perf. Markku Aro. S: Janne Laine. ED: Jussi Rautaniemi. C: Leea Klemola (Maarit), Peter Franzén (Sami), Ria Kataja (Julia), Emmi Nivala (Pinja), Alex Anton (Teo), Maria Heiskanen (Silva), Laura Malmivaara (turvakodin johtaja / director at the women's shelter), Juhani Laitala (Haapoja), Marika Parkkomäki (Pirjo), Seppo Halttunen (the Toyota man), Olavi Uusivirta (Hatakka), Pirkko Hämäläinen (Koistinen), Sari Viitasalo-Flander (siivouspäällikkö / forewoman at the cleaning company), Celso de la Molina (Jaime), Rasoul Dehgan (Atilla), Julia Suikki (bartender), Johannes Anttila (Matias). Released by Future Film with Swedish subtitles by Heidi Nyblom-Kuorikoski. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 6, Helsinki, 11 May 2013.

Official synopsis: "Kerron sinulle kaiken is a tale of Maarit (Leea Klemola) going through an abrupt period of transition in her life. Maarit has recently experienced a sex change into a woman. Finally she starts to feel like living a life of her own. Yet Maarit still needs to open knots in her past in order to be able to go on in her life. She wants to reconstruct her relationship with her teenage daughter and be able to help other people again. Further Maarits wants to have someone on her side with whom to experience moments of happiness, go jogging, and share her bed. When fate throws Sami (Peter Franzén) on her way anything seems possible. Kerron sinulle kaiken is a tale about courage. Courage to be oneself even when the whole world seems against it. Courage to make choices which are truly and honestly one's own - and sometimes, when the heart tells so, to cross one's own boundaries." (Official synopsis, my translation).

A well-made drama with a transgendered person, Maarit, in the center. Born as a boy she has always felt she's a girl, and after ten years of marriage she has now experienced a sex change. The lives of everybody in touch with her are bouleversés. Her ex-wife and daughter get to suffer scorn, discrimination, and bullying, and no man is interested in the ex-wife anymore. But Sami, experiencing a crisis of marriage and virility, is helped by Maarit. His marriage is subsequently broken, but it seems it was a matter of time anyway.

The fate is harshest for Maarit who loses her family and meets the overwhelming challenge of finding a new partner. She has an academic degree and has worked as a school curator but now cannot find a job that would meet her qualifications. Instead, she works as a cleaning-woman. In that role she makes a fatal mistake that sets the plot in motion.

Leea Klemola's powerful performance makes the movie work. She had already impressed in one of the pioneering transgender roles of Finnish cinema, Ilppo Pohjola's furious P(l)ain Truth (1993). Maarit survives the almost impossible ordeal via her exceptional strength of character. Maarit's monologue, her confession, is at the core of the movie.

The narrative belongs to the wild, impossible, and transgressive tradition of the cinema. What is forbidden we see actually happening on screen like in a nightmare. Professional confidence is routinely breached, a cleaning-lady poses as a psychotherapist, a "psychotherapist" jumps to bed with a "patient", and a teacher jumps to bed with a lukio = lyceum ~ high school student.

There is a fundamental dimension of pretense in the characters. Sami and Julia are pretending to be happily married. Maarit pretends to be a psychologist. Nobody is at ease with him/herself.

The grown-up protagonists are struggling to survive. They are so highly strung, lost, and desperate that it is a bit hard to relate to them.

The young generation seems more sober. Teo is the only one who recognizes Maarit's identity immediately. Pinja withstands school bullying and clears Maarit's reputation.

The lesson of the story: honesty can be almost impossible, yet truth must prevail.

A new strong theatrical feature film from Simo Halinen who has been active mostly on television. His first theatrical feature film Cyclomania (2001) was memorable thanks to good performances and excellent location shooting in Helsinki, constantly discovering new and surprising views of the much-filmed city.

The digital screening looks ok.

Even rougher notes: - Maarit: My fundamental problem is honesty. - Julia is a control freak. - Sami: I am sensitive, not a mechanical suorittaja / performer. - Maarit's gamble on the assumed identity as a psychotherapist. - The plot belongs to the transgressive tradition: what is impossible that we see happening on screen: the cleaning-lady as a psychotherapist, the professionals breach professional confidence, the "psychotherapist" jumps to bed with "patient", teacher seduces pupil. - Well-made drama. - A sense of solitude, estrangement. - Scary women, women not at ease with themselves. - Teo is the only one who realizes Maarit's secret immediately: "you dig your body too much", "Finnish women never do so", "you have a thrilling vibe". - Maarit's confession is the high point of the movie: when I was five, and listened to ABBA's Honey Honey I realized I'm a girl. I also realized I need to keep it secret. My sexual fantasies were confused. I did not dare think about it. When I was first with a girl, Oona, I felt she was a guy, and so I did not have to be afraid. That feeling I did not want to get rid of, only my body. I was left-back, I went to the military, I established a family, ten years I lived a double life, I loved my wife and daugher, but I knew I was betraying myself. I needed to be touched, but nobody could touch me, that did not exist except via tricks. - Julia senses that Sami is going through something fundamental with his therapist. "Beware of transference". - Johannes, a schoolboy, formerly helped by Maarit as Mauri, has been found dead. The police accuses Maarit based on information by a schoolboy informer who has totally twisted what happened. Maarit, in fact, was the only one who cared and tried to help. - Maarit brings a private cellphone to her daughter Pinja. "Inside I'm the same person as always". - The ex-wife [Pirjo?] is a harridan with a look that could kill. "En tiennyt kumpanako olisin tullut" = "I did not know in which person I should have come". - "No man touches me even with a ten foot pole anymore". - Julia in therapy, as well. "As if there were something between us". - Pinja confronts the informer who has defamed Maarit. - She discovers the last message from Johannes and goes to the police: "I know why Johannes killed himself". - Teo is of Irakian ancestry. "Mimmit lähettää savumerkkejä" / "Girls keep sending smoke signals", but he does not react. - Pinja as a victim of school bullying, but she refuses to bend. - A violent, bloody confrontation between Maarit and Sami: "you broke my marriage". - Masks fall, truth comes out, and "nobody needs to act happy anymore".

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