Friday, March 02, 2012

Vares - kaidan tien kulkijat / The Path of the Righteous Men / [Wanderers of the Straight and Narrow]

Den smala vägens vandrare. FI 2012 © 2011 Solar Films. P: Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. D: Anders Engström. SC: Mika Karttunen - based on the novel (1992) by Reijo Mäki. DP: Jari Mutikainen. Digital post-production: Post Control. PD: Betsy Ångerman. Cost: Janne Karjalainen, Marjatta Nissinen. Makeup: Hannele Herttua. Digital art team: big. Hair: Minna Pilvinen. M: Samuli Laiho, DJ Slow. M selections include "Valoon päin" and "Jos vain siipeni kantaa" sung by Kari Tapio. S: Joonas Jyrälä. ED: Anders Engström. Casting: Tutsa Paananen, Pia Pesonen. C: Antti Reini (Jussi Vares), Peter Franzén (Taisto Raappana), Merja Larivaara (Elisabeth Raappana), Aake Kalliala (Paskamantteli), Markku Maalismaa (Reverend Hukkanen), Pekka Huotari (Kalle Riutta), Tomi Salmela (Peitsara), Kari-Pekka Toivonen (senior physician, Dr. Sulo Hento), Jarmo Mäkinen (managing director Juhana Silander), Petteri Summanen (officer Larva), Eppu Salminen (Juhani Luusalmi), Matti Onnismaa (Pastor Alanen), Petteri Ahomaa (bank director), Ari Piispa (rural police chief Toivonen), Kari Tapio (as himself), Ulla-Britt Boström-Karlsson (the wealthy widow Grannas). 97 min. Released by Nordisk Film with Swedish subtitles by Carina Laurila-Olin.2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 3, Helsinki, 2 March 2012.

The fourth film in the new series about the private eye Jussi Vares is a departure from the familiar location of the city of Turku. This time Vares gets to solve the murder of a young girl in the deepest bible belt of the province of Pohjanmaa.

There is again a fine relaxed touch in the dialogue amongst the barflies during the prologue set in Turku. As soon as we get to Pohjanmaa the caricature approach gets at its thickest during the entire Vares series. We meet the slimy preacher Raappana (Peter Franzén), his insatiable wife Elisabeth (Merja Larivaara: again Vares's encounter with a puma lady is frustrated), the Caligariesque director of the madhouse, Dr. Sulo Hento (Kari-Pekka Toivonen), the sinister director of the printing house Silander (Jarmo Mäkinen) whose whole operation is based on blackmail, the officious police officer Larva (Petteri Summanen), and the weak old lady, the rich Mrs. Grannas (Ulla-Britt Boström-Karlsson), about to be exploited by the "religious" impostors. Among the sanest people are the alcoholic reverend Hukkanen (Markku Maalismaa) and the village idiot Paskamantteli (Aake Kalliala). There would have been juicy possibilities in developing this stuff even more into the direction of a grotesque parody. Now it is difficult to relate to anything in this story.

Visually the movie starts promisingly with a magnificent shot of the Pohjanmaa plains and a slide guitar tune perhaps inspired by Ry Cooder. Nothing wrong with the composition, but the colour is a bit turbid.

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