Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Romanssi / Romance (2013)

FI © 2013 Reppufilmi. D: Anssi Mänttäri. A Reppufilmi 2K DCP with English subtitles by Mikko Lyytikäinen viewed at Iso Teltta / The Big Top, Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 12 June 2013

Presented by Anssi Mänttäri. "Vielä yöllä tietokone raksutti" - last night the computer was still rattling away with this movie. There was a technical glitch with the first file, but another one was soon on its way and quickly installed. "I imagined this would be a romantic comedy, but then we realized it is not romantic neither a comedy. The genre is Mänttäri genre."

The Festival Catalogue: "The founding father of the brainchild that is the Midnight Sun Film Festival and also the King of Finnish alternative cinema, Anssi Mänttäri, gazes into the mysteries of love in his most recent film, Romance."
   "A man meets a woman on the street and is convinced that they've had shared moments of happiness several years ago. However, the woman can't recall their common past and is forced to play a guessing game with the stranger."
   "The setting of several encounters between the couple is Bar Mendocino, which is located in downtown Helsinki. It appears nestled in the light of neon signs and snow that slowly descends. Mänttäri's blues-filled world is constructed upon subtle snapshots of some philosophical moments. It follows the path of the protagonists, but dares to digress occasionally."
   "The harmonious swing of this movie sneaks under the skin of the spectator in quite a seductive manner. The essence of love is likely to remain yet a mystery but as always, Mänttäri's approach on the subject is warm and humane."

The male protagonist has a surefire pick-up line: "we have had an affair years ago". The movie is based on flashbacks of memory exercises about various affairs over the years, but finally there is no memory match between the man and the woman. In the conclusion the female protagonist overhears the man applying the pick-up line to the next woman. Herself, she has been obsessed by a memory of a pianist in Bar Mendocino ten years ago, and as she is leaving the place in a disillusioned mood she suddenly overhears the familiar sound of the pianist ("Tuuli tuo unohduksen" = "The Wind Will Bring Oblivion"). There is a ray of hope in the unhappy ending.

I liked: - The unique Anssi Mänttäri approach. - The funny memory sketch flashbacks. - The interesting cast of characters. - The witty dialogue. "You know nothing about solitude until you have married."

Until the recent digital turn Anssi Mänttäri's movies had a good visual quality. Now it is low definition digital.

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