7.4/10
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Letters to Father Jacob (2009)

Postia pappi Jaakobille (original title)
With few options, newly pardoned convict Leila agrees to work as an assistant to a blind pastor. Father Jacob spends his days answering the letters of the needy, which Leila finds pointless... See full summary »

Director:

Klaus Härö

Writers:

Klaus Härö (screenplay), Jaana Makkonen (original idea) | 1 more credit »
16 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview:
Kaarina Hazard ... Leila
Heikki Nousiainen Heikki Nousiainen ... Father Jacob
Jukka Keinonen Jukka Keinonen ... Posteljooni
Esko Roine Esko Roine ... Vankilan Johtaja
Kaija Pakarinen Kaija Pakarinen ... Leilan sisko (voice)
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Storyline

With few options, newly pardoned convict Leila agrees to work as an assistant to a blind pastor. Father Jacob spends his days answering the letters of the needy, which Leila finds pointless. But when the letters stop, the pastor is devastated and Leila finds herself cast in a new role. Written by Pusan International Film Festival

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]

Country:

Finland

Language:

Finnish

Release Date:

3 April 2009 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Cartas al padre Jacob See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

€525,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kinotar, Yleisradio (YLE) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Submitted by Finland to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (U.S.A.) for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 82th Academy Awards. See more »

Goofs

In one brief shot, the mailbox in the yard has water streaming out from four holes. This water could not have accumulated naturally, so it was obviously poured into the mailbox by the crew just before the shot. See more »

Quotes

Vankilan Johtaja: Twelve years and no mention about leaves. Not a single requisition.
Leila: Haven't had any reason.
Vankilan Johtaja: And no family meetings.
Leila: I have had no reason.
Vankilan Johtaja: Do you have any idea where are you going to go next?
Leila: It was to be life sentence.
Vankilan Johtaja: Pardon has been accepted and that's that.
See more »

Connections

References Little Big Man (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Quartet in F Minor
Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performed by Hart House String Quartet
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Where redemption happens in the most unlikely places.
1 March 2013 | by RJBurke1942See all my reviews

This superlative film from Finland shows, better than most, how to tell a story with few words. The director, Klaus Haro, definitely shows the same skill with visual story-telling as that consummate master, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, famous most recently for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011).

The plot is simple: a youngish woman, Leila (Kaarina Hazard) is released from a life sentence in prison to take up a job as a personal assistant to a blind priest, Pastor Jacob (Heikki Nousiainen) out in the boondocks. Leila settles in, reading the pastor's letters from supplicants and writing necessary replies. Leila is not happy though; she resists Jacob's attempts at friendship; she avoids helping in other matters; she remains aloof, uncaring, unsatisfied. Until, one day, she notices that the postman fails to bring more letters for Jacob, and Leila discovers that things are never quite what they seem to be.

The underlying story is complex, lyrical, philosophical, and ultimately heart-warming without being sentimental. The acting is simply perfect for the context: Kaarina Hazard, with a large bone structure, deep frowning face and brusque manner is every bit the ex-con and depressive personality – but why was she serving a life sentence? Why was she released? And why was she sent to the pastor, of all places?

As the pastor, Heikki Nousiainen, is equally adept at portraying a gentle sage near life's end, supremely faithful to his god, forever upbeat and friendly, always with a gentle word for all, even for those who despise him, as Leila seems to do, at first. Dialog is sparse. Often, all that is needed is a quick look, a glance, a sigh, a slight groan of disquiet, as the two get to know each other and while the days meld into a seamless, almost timeless stasis with the gorgeous Finnish forests. Some comic relief is provided by the wary attitude of the postman towards Leila, as he brings the letters for Pastor Jacob.

The sound track – mostly piano – is muted and fits the overall mood. We see the wind in the forest, and hear the river water. But, more than that, we hear the silence, particularly when the two sit, contemplating each other and their inner selves. The rain falls, the water drips through the ceiling into pots or buckets, and life must go on. Even for the Leila's of the world...

It's a credit to the script writer and director that I was never squirming in my seat eager for something to happen. In fact, that never impinged upon my involvement with the unfolding story: so that's perfect pacing for me. My only criticism, though, is that story lacks true believability: it's possible, yes, but highly improbable in real life.

No story is ever perfect, however. This one, though, comes close by promising nothing up front; and then, with a denouement that arrives like a meteor, it rips away any comfortable sang-froid to show us that, if you're prepared to dig deep within, you will indeed find promises to keep.

Highly recommended for all adults, young and old. Eight out of ten for this effort, no question.

February 28, 2013


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