Friday, January 03, 2020

Teräsleidit



Stålsystrarna.
    FI © 2020 Helsinki-filmi. P: Aleksi Bardy, Dome Karukoski, Sirkka Rautiainen.
    D: Pamela Tola. SC: Pamela Tola, Aleksi Bardy. DP: Päivi Kettunen. PD: Heini Erving. Cost: Tiina Kaukanen. Makeup: Riikka Virtanen. M: Panu Aaltio. S: Panu Riikonen. ED: Antti Reikko.
    Music in the disco: "Million alyh roz" ("Dāvāja Māriņa", comp. Raimonds Pauls, lyr. Leons Briedis, in Russian Andrei Voznesensky). "Lennän" (comp. Panu Aaltio, lyr. Ilona Chevakova, Pamela Tola). "Musta enkeli" (comp. Panu Aaltio, lyr. Pamela Tola), perf. Ilona Chevakova.
    "Nälkämaan laulu" (comp. Oskar Merikanto, lyr. Ilmari Kianto).
    Original song: "Hei sisko" by Maija Vilkkumaa.
    C: Leena Uotila (Inkeri), Seela Sella (Raili), Saara Pakkasvirta (Sylvi), Heikki Nousiainen (Tapio), Pirjo Lonka (Maija), Jani Volanen (Ville), Samuli Niittymäki (Jarkko), Linnea Skog (Rosa), Mio tola (Roni), Juhani Niemelä (Eino), Rea Mauranen (Hannele), Lauri Tilkanen (teller), Jussi Sorjanen (university functionary), Anna Paavilainen (Taika, university professor), Eero Herranen (Eero, student), Karim Rapatti (Karim, student), Eeva Muttonen (Eeva, student), Janne Saarinen (Janne, student), Markku Haussila (Markku, student), Yasmine Yamajako (Yasmine, student), Anna-Leena Härkönen (car repair person), Ilona Chevakova (Natasha), Pamela Tola (airport attendant), Marja Salo (nurse).
    Loc: Helsinki metropolitan area and North Karelia.
    92 min
    Premiere: 3 Jan 2020 – distributor: SF Studios – Swedish subtitles: Frej Grönholm.
    DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 5, Helsinki, 3 Jan 2020.

"Go when it is already too late."
– Tagline.

According to the press release, Teräsleidit [Iron Ladies] is a road movie in which age is hardly even a number. Along the many twists in the road both the past and the future are reconfigured, as well as family and private affairs.

AA: Pamela Tola's Teräsleidit is a character-driven farce where three divas of the Finnish stage relish an opportunity to act badly. The farce is based on the concept of ladies of a venerable age behaving like spoiled brats. The dialogue is sharp and the performances are great.

"Nasty Women" is a series of early slapstick films curated by Maggie Hennefeld and Laura Horak for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, featuring Léontine, Zoé, Rosalie, Cunégonde and other heroines of catastrophe comedies from the 1910s. The wild and reckless legacy lives on in Teräsleidit.

It's a female road movie like Elma & Liisa (2011) directed by Pamela Tola together with Pihla Viitala in homage to Thelma & Louise. That film also brought to mind Sedmikrásky / Daisies, Boys on the Side, and other "women on the road" movies. The basic premise of Y tu mamá también / And Your Mother Too was also parodied (Elma and Liisa stated that they were on their final journey with only months to live). Finnish points of reference might include Neitoperho / The Collector and Taulukauppiaat / The Painting Sellers. Elma & Liisa was quite original, though.

Elma & Liisa was about a road to nowhere, a desperate, potentially final quest. Elma and Liisa  commit fraud. They harass, steal, rob and kill and plan to kill more. The feeling of violence, depression and self-destruction was overwhelming.

A touch of that feeling lingers even in Teräsleidit. All three ladies have murder in mind, and Raili (Seela Sella) does not seem to be joking when she boasts of having killed all five of her husbands. "All were healthy before they met me".

But the genre and the approach are totally different now, perhaps reminiscent of the popular Luokkakokous series based on a Danish original about three men's road trip to a class reunion. Teräsleidit is a gross-out slapstick farce with foul language, vomiting, bared bottoms, men beaten unconscious with a frying pan and creamcake smearings.

What is different and unusual is the fact that the protagonists are old ladies, one of them, Sylvi (Saara Pakkasvirta) even suffering from memory disorder. Nevertheless she is the wildest one. When she has a drop of alcohol, an irrepressible sex urge is released.

The main protagonist is Inkeri (Leena Uotila) who needs to reconstruct her life and collect evidence of her whole trajectory before facing a trial having killed her husband, as she believes. For her the road trip is also a memory journey. She returns to her past as a student radical ("the free girl"), her interrupted academic studies, her unfinished manuscript for a novel. Back home in Northern Karelia she revisits, after half a century, her flame of youth, now a frail hippie. Together they visit the sauna.

Meanwhile Inkeri's overbearing daughter Maija (Pirjo Lonka) is busy arranging a 75th anniversary surprise party for her mother who has no interest in any such thing. The party turns into a catastrophe with stilted speeches and sing-alongs which nobody joins (people cannot sing anymore nor do they know lyrics). There is a quiz show for the parents which they sabotage in the rudest manner, even expressing regret of ever having married and gotten children. The daughter has a nervous breakdown and starts to demolish the party service. The anthem of the province of Kainuu, "Nälkämaan laulu" ["The Song of the Land of Hunger"] is sung.

Beyond the violent and farcical dimensions there is a dimension of self-searching. The question lingers whether Inkeri, the former student radical, has been reduced to submission and an unlived life next to a domineering husband, Tapio (Heikki Nousiainen). Tapio confesses having been a monster: selfish and grotesque. But Inkeri denies having been victimized and admits responsibility for everything. Nevertheless, Tapio kneels and proposes again in Inkeri's anniversary party.

Memory plays tricks, and this is the source of some of the most original comedy in Teräsleidit. "I do know my own life", exclaims Inkeri, but she keeps being surprised by what she has forgotten or repressed. Sylvi, the victim of a memory disorder, seems the happiest. Raili, the lawyer whose memory is impeccable, is the most heartless. "Marriage: first we fuck like rabbits, then it's all horrible." But Raili also admits that it is she who has been horrible. "I never loved anybody".

The original score by Panu Aaltio is brisk and appealing as are his songs in the disco sequence. I like films where the director composes lyrics to songs like here. During the end credits a new song written by Maija Vilkkumaa for this film is heard.

Slapstick is a difficult style. It works best in short films. In features it's tricky. Three cheers for Pamela Tola for going against the grain in this wild and comic film of hers.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: OFFICIAL PRESS INFO:
BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: OFFICIAL PRESS INFO:

Pamela Tolan ohjaama Teräsleidit on road movie, jossa ikä on tuskin edes numero.

75-vuotias Inkeri (Leena Uotila) on lyönyt miestään Tapiota (Heikki Nousiainen) paistinpannulla päähän ja suunnittelee tämän hautaamista puutarhaan. Loppuelämän mittainen vankeus odottaa, mutta ennen sitä olisi vielä hetki aikaa elää – vihdoin. Niinpä Inkerin on parasta lähteä nyt, kun on jo liian myöhäistä.

Isosiskojensa Railin (Seela Sella) ja Sylvin (Saara Pakkasvirta) kanssa Inkeri suuntaa matkalle vapauteen. Tien päällä kyytiin liftaa hurmaavaa nuorisoa, auto hajoaa ja yökerhossa tanssitaan syntisesti. Reissussa tapahtuu kaikkea sitä, mitä Sylvi ei kehtaa edes ääneen sanoa, mutta totuuden torvi Raili mielellään toitottaa.

Matkassa olevien mutkien kautta laitetaan uuteen uskoon niin menneisyyttä ja tulevaisuutta kuin perhe- ja parisuhteita. Perillä nuoruusmaisemissa paitsi päästetään irti, myös löydetään jotakin vuosien varrella kadonnutta.

Lopulta edes oma tytär (Pirjo Lonka) ei ole tuntea äitiään, kun Inkeri ratkaisee yhden elämänsä suurimmista kysymyksistä: Miten ihmeessä ihminen voi pitää itsensä järjissään, kun koko muu perhe on seinähullua sakkia?

Tuottajat: Aleksi Bardy, Dome Karukoski ja Sirkka Rautiainen
Ohjaus: Pamela Tola
Käsikirjoitus: Pamela Tola ja Aleksi Bardy
Rooleissa: Leena Uotila, Seela Sella, Saara Pakkasvirta, Heikki Nousiainen, Pirjo Lonka, Jani Volanen ja Samuli Niittymäki
Kuvaus: Päivi Kettunen
Leikkaus: Antti Reikko
Musiikki: Panu Aaltio
Lavastussuunnittelu: Heini Erving
Pukusuunnittelu: Tiina Kaukanen
Maskeeraussuunnittelu: Riikka Virtanen
Äänisuunnittelu: Panu Riikonen
Tuotanto: Helsinki-filmi
Levitys ja markkinointi: SF Studios
ENSI-ILTA ELOKUVATEATTEREISSA KAUTTA MAAN PERJANTAINA 3.1.2020

”Roolihenkilöiden iästä huolimatta elokuvan teemoihin voivat samastua monen ikäiset. Toivon Teräsleidien antavan ihmisille eri asioita sen mukaan, mikä kehenkin kolahtaa – toisille syvällistäkin elämän tarkkailemista ja pohdintaa, toisille hulvattomia naurun hetkiä.” – Pamela Tola, ohjaaja ja käsikirjoittaja

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