Mikko Makela / Finland / 2017 / 108mins
Available now on DVD.
Handsome Leevi (Janne Puustinen) has returned from his studies (Gender Performativity, no less) in Paris to help his dad (Mika Melender) renovate their summer cabin by the lake with help from agency handyman Tareq (Boodi Kabbani). There’s emotional baggage between father and son concerning the death of Leevi’s mother and a lot has obviously remained unsaid. Both men are still grieving over the death but dad has put mum’s things, including a framed wedding photograph, in a box in the woodshed – out of sight out of mind.
When Tareq enters the story, the two young men have to speak English as Tareq’s Finnish is non-existent. The father seems more out on a limb than ever. Tareq is a refugee from Syria who, despite being a trained architect, is earning his bread as an odd-job man. When dad’s called away on business overnight the two men remain behind. There’s a beer and a sauna and the two guys tumble into bed. “Are you two getting on okay?” Asks dad when he returns the morning after the two guys have been intimate with each other. Will the old man twig as to what’s going on?
There is a beautiful, slow elegiac quality to this crowdfunded indie movie. There’s much handheld camera which gives the story strange immediacy. The improv-style acting is finely nuanced and debut writer/director Mikko Makela shows much promise. The film is a slow-burner to be sure, but it captures the languid mood of the developing relationship and torpid lakeside setting well – there’s virtually no music, just the creaking floorboards, drip of the coffee machine and the faraway call of the wild geese.
It’s not Chekhov and it’s a wee bit predictable (it bears similarities to the superior Britflick of last year God’s Own Country) but it’s a sensitive little film, affecting and great to look at.