A comedy about Janne, a man from Lapland in Northern Finland, a man who has made a career out of living on welfare. Inari, his girlfriend, is tired of Janne's incapability of getting a grip... See full summary »
Juhani, 14 years old and tormented by a childhood trauma, has changed several foster parents from the age of eight. He is taken to an island, where there is a boys' home, run by a strict ... See full summary »
The Grump is a man from the past. A man who knows that everything used to be so much better in the old days. Pretty much everything that's been done after 1953 has always managed to ruin ... See full summary »
Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of artist Touko Valio Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland), one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture.
Seumas F. Sargent,
When their bootlegging father ends up in jail, four twenty-something brothers need money to pay his debts to local crooks. Next, their 9-year-old half-sister is dumped on their doorstep by ... See full summary »
When a schoolteacher is sacked he projects his bad mood at his troubled teen son. He in turn buys a CD player from a pawnshop with counterfeit money. This causes a chain-reaction that ... See full summary »
For Ari, nothing feels like anything. He doesn't do relationships, doesn't do attachments. There's only sex. That is until he meets Tiina. Together with Tiina and her closest circle of friends, this could be their last summer of freedom.
I had honestly given up hope of ever seeing a truly good Finnish film. Finnish filmmakers seemed to have this peculiar depressive streak a mile wide and every film I watched was either painfully banal comedy or a dark drama about the cruelty of life. And then I saw this film.
Leijonasydän by Dome Karukoski is the best Finnish film I've personally ever seen. It has the capacity of emotion, the sheer skill and the story to stand side by side with the best international films out there. And the reasons for this excellence are the reasons why most films succeed: excellent characters and a great story. And it's not that the story itself is all that unpredictable or new. The film is about a Neo-Nazi that is forced to live with his new girlfriend's son. A son, whose father just happens to be of African descent. You can probably figure out how the story will pan out just from that. It's the execution here, the way the story is told and how well the actors do their jobs, that pulls the movie through.
And those aforementioned actors are all very skilled. Peter Franzén and Jasper Pääkkönen both do a credible job of portraying two brothers, who both happen to believe in white power. Yet they're not treated unsympathetically. Their actions are condemned, sure, but the film also goes to great lengths to show them not as monster, but as people who believe in wrong things. They both show capability for regret, sympathy and even love, despite their upbringing. Great depth of emotion and humanity.
Laura Birn and Yusufa Sidibeh also shine as mother and son. Finland still doesn't get all that many immigrants, so people of foreign descent are still something of an oddity here. Thus it's great to see films like this one that treat the fact like it's supposed to be: a family, no matter their respective skin colour.
As far criticism goes, I only have a couple of nitpicks. Like how the ending could have gone on for a bit longer, or how Birn's character gets suddenly removed for a part of the film, but these are more matters of taste rather than real flaws in the film.
Leijonasydän is a great film. It believes in humanity, has incredible role performances and is just all around heartwarming to watch. Highly recommended for all.
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