Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tummien perhosten koti / The Home of Dark Butterflies

De mörka fjärilarnas hem.
    FI © 2008 Solar Films. P: Markus Selin.
    D: Dome Karukoski. SC: Marko Leino – based on the novel (1991) by Leena Lander. DP: Pini Hellstedt – negative: 35 mm and S16 mm (dream sequences) – via digital intermediate – 35 mm screening print – 1:2,35.
    C: Tommi Korpela (Harjula), Niilo Syväoja (Juhani), Eero Milonoff (Salmi), Niko Vakkuri (Hämäläinen), Iiro Panula (Sulkava), Ville Saksela (Rinne), Henri Huttunen (Simola), Roope Karisto (Sjöblom), Marjut Maristo (Vanamo), Kristiina Halttu (Irene), Kati Outinen (Tyyne), Pertti Sveholm (Erik), Matleena Kuusniemi (Maire).
    Released by Nordisk Film, Swedish subtitles by [Olle von Bonsdorff?]. Premiere 11 Jan. Viewed 12 Jan 2008 at Tennispalatsi 1, Helsinki.

The digital intermediate gives the film a flat and lifeless look.

Summarizing the producer's synopsis: "The principal character of the movie is 14-year-old Juhani, haunted by a traumatic childhood experience. After being bounced between foster homes and temporary families for six years, Juhani ends up in an isolated Boys’ Home, The Island. The place is run by the ruthless superintendent Harjula. Besides the seven boys and Harjula, the only other inhabitants of the Island are the superintendent’s wife Irene and their two daughters including the teenager Vanamo, along with Tyyne, in charge of livestock and catering."

It takes place in Finland in the age Kekkonen, probably the early 1970s. Authoritarian methods of education are already out, a period of indifference to the "lost boys" is dawning. It's in the tradition of Wild Boys of the Road, Passport to Life, Los olvidados, etc. It starts violently and proceeds to find new turns, layers and sensitivity in the characters. It packs a punch, and the story is directed by second-timer Dome Karukoski with a good eye on the the rhythm of the story. The character-driven approach is successful with strong performances all through the picture.

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