Friday, August 24, 2018

Ilosia aikoja, Mielensäpahoittaja / Happier Times, Grump

Glada tider, Kverulanten.
    FI 2018 Solar Films. P: Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. D: Tiina Lymi. SC: Tiina Lymi, Juha Lehtola, Tuomas Kyrö – based on the novel by Tuomas Kyrö. DP: Hena Blomberg. PD: Sattva-Hanna Toiviainen. Cost: Anna Vilppunen. Makeup: Pia Mikkonen. M: Juri Seppä, Miska Seppä. S: Pekka Karjalainen. ED: Joona Louhivuori.
    C: Heikki Kinnunen (Mielensäpahoittaja / The Grump), Satu Tuuli Karhu (Sofia), Elina Knihtilä (Katri), Jani Volanen (Pekka), Iikka Forss (Hessu), Mari Perankoski (miniä), Sulevi Peltola (Kolehmainen), Janne Reinikainen (Kivinkinen).
    ♪ "Vihreät niityt" ("Green Fields", Terry Gilkyson, Richard Dehr, Frank Miller, 1956) perf. Olavi Virta.
    ♪ "Miljoona ruusua" / "Million Roses" ("Dāvāja Māriņa meitenei mūžiņu", Raimonds Pauls, Leons Briedes, 1981, covered by Alla Pugatsova as "Миллион алых роз" in Russian with lyrics by Andrei Voznesenski), perf. Vera Telenius – and by Jarkko Honkanen & Taiga feat. Talonpoika Lalli.
    DCP released by Nordisk Film with Swedish subtitles by Frej Grönholm, 115 min
    Premiere 24 Aug 2018.
    Viewed at Tennispalatsi Scape, 24 Aug 2018

Tiina Lymi has directed the sequel to the beloved Mielensäpahoittaja / The Grump (2014).

The biggest change is in the change of the actor. Antti Litja had created the character for the radio, the theatre and the cinema. Now Heikki Kinnunen steps into those big rubber boots. His interpretation is different. He seems more angry and aggressive, but a warm heart beats in his chest.

The other major change is that we now connect with a different family among the descendants. In the first film we learned to know the weak-willed son Hessu (Iikka Forst), dominated by his wife (Mari Perankoski). This time Hessu and Mari are in the background.

In the foreground is the other son, Pekka (Jani Volanen), married with Katri (Elina Knihtilä). They have a 17-year-old daughter, Sofia (Satu Tuuli Karhu). Pekka is a tyrant, making life hell for everybody. Everything is paved for a brilliant, successful path for Sofia starting from Princeton University.

The film begins startlingly with death. The Grump's wife dies, having suffered from Alzheimer's for a long time. The funeral and the memorial are disastrous, due to the inflamed relationships in the family.

The Grump is so depressed that he immediately starts to prepare his own funeral. He marks his belongings with masking tape notifications on who will inherit what. He digs his potatoes from the ground and donates them to his neighbour, Kolehmainen (Sulevi Peltola). The frugal Grump even begins to carve his own coffin.

The turning-point is Sofia's decision to cancel her planned visit to the Helsinki Business Forum. Instead, she returns to the Grump, to the consternation of the angry old man. And the Grump, of all people, is the only one to divine Sofia's secret. She is pregnant, as a result of a drunken party night in Brussels. She does not even know the name of the father.

Most of all Sofia fears her own father who wants to interrupt the pregnancy although the fetus is already six months old. But Sofia has her baby, and it is also a journey of self-discovery for her father Pekka, son of the Grump. Pekka realizes that while rebelling against his father he has turned into his mirror image. As the Grump states: "I'm sorry that you have become me".

Instead of a coffin the Grump carves a cradle.

It is a good story, and there is much to like, most of all the performances of Heikki Kinnunen and Sulevi Peltola. Satu Tuuli Karhu is very nice in the female leading role. But the character of Pekka becomes overdone and monotonous. He is a monster like the Grump but not equally interesting. Perhaps the character is underwritten.

Some of the moments relating to the ultrasound image of the fetus are especially moving. Tiina Lymi conveys the full power of the experience. This tiny being changes the lives of everybody.

Among the fascinating details is the presence of the Thai berrypickers in the forest. They seem to understand the spirit of the forest instinctively. This aspect brings to mind the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical Malady, Uncle Boonmee). The Thai people immediately connect with The Grump and save his life.

A sense of nature is a link connecting Tiina Lymi's theatrical feature films. In Off the Map the women find a forest hideaway where it turns out that the heroine is devoid of survival skills.  Lapland Odyssey 3 takes place in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. The odyssey is about Janne's trying to find out who he is and achieve a peace of mind. He wants to experience a period of contemplation in the nature.

But we have become strangers in our own land. We cannot read nature anymore. Perhaps that is a fundamental reason for the malaise for the wanderer of Lapland Odyssey 3 and The Grump who cannot relate to the generation of his children. But now he is connecting with his grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. There is a note of hope.

Tiina Lymi creates moments of genuine emotion in this sequel which is less satirical but more engrossing than its predecessor. It is both more serious and more hopeful. The narrative is slightly prolonged, and the film might be better if it were a bit more compact. Lymi has a talent of crisp wit, but in this film sentiment is needlessly emphasized, including in the superfluous music score. Less could be more.


Ilosia aikoja, Mielensäpahoittaja on mahdottoman hauska ja sydämellinen elokuva mahdottoman vakavasta aiheesta.

Mielensäpahoittaja aikoo kuolla, koska kaikki hommat on tehty ja elämästä kadonnut tarkoitus. Mutta juuri kun oma arkku on valmistumassa, Mielensäpahoittajan luo saapuu uusi elämä. Lapsenlapsi, 17-vuotias Sofia on ongelmissa ja tarvitsee isoisänsä jääräpäisyyttä, viisautta ja takan lämpöä. Mielensäpahoittaja taas saa elämäänsä tarkoituksen ja suuren salaisuuden. Vanhan jäärän ja nuoren kaupunkilaistytön yhteiselämässä kahdesta puolikkaasta kasvaa enemmän kuin yksi kokonainen.

Heikki Kinnunen
Sulevi Peltola
Satu Tuuli Karhu
Iikka Forss
Mari Perankoski
Jani Volanen
Elina Knihtilä
Janne Reinikainen
Kaisa Hela
Sari Siikander


Ilosia aikoja, Mielensäpahoittaja on elokuva siitä, kuinka särkyneeksi luultu korjataan sukupolvien kuilun yli. Elämä yllättää päähenkilöt ja pakottaa heidät katsomaan itseään ja läheisiään uusin silmin. Me emme aina saa valita kaikkia niitä ihmisiä, joiden kanssa taitamme tämän elämän pituisen matkan, ja joskus meidän on vain hyväksyttävä itsemme ja heidät virheineen kaikkineen. Niin kauan kuin on rakkautta, kaikki on mahdollista.

Tiina Lymi

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