Directed by Virpi Suutari
Oy. This film. A documentary about what it means to be an entrepreneur on the extremes of the economic spectrum in Finland is half unbearable and half pretty good. But it’s all kinds of boring. If your entire movie is based solely on slice-of-life observations, those lives had better be extremely interesting. And if you discover, as I imagine she must have, that halfway through editing, only one side of the film is fascinating, then change your plan. In documentary filmaking, the story determines where it goes, not the other way around.
First the good. Everything about the Laine family traveling fair and meat market makes for an exceptional viewing experience. The manner in which they live, communicate with each other, and where there priorities lie is informative and emotional…a perfect little capsule of the human condition, in all its stages, and what it means to put the family above the individual. If the film had simply revolved around them (and the family’s incredible matriarch), it would have been more than enough.
Also, within that half of the film, the look, light and photography (credited to no less than FIVE cinematographers), is spectacular. Half the joy of seeing so many films at a festival is to learn about, and experience, worlds we would otherwise know nothing about. And director Suutari more than accomplishes that task, injecting each scene with what I can only hope is natural light…an almost fluorescent blue sheen engulfing all.
But that other half…MAN, is that dull…and uninspired. I’m sure a full ninety percent of my reaction is based on how closely it resembles any one of a million American entrepreneurial stories. The major difference is that it is a large business venture solely owned and pursued by women. The reaction around them is its sole point of interest. Otherwise, alas, in comparison to the Laine’s, every decision, no matter how essential to the survival of their endeavor, seems less than.
In other words, one story is about survival, the other about making millions. One company selling meat while the other is developing a meat substitute is simply not intriguing enough a dichotomy for a successful feature…no matter how interesting the idea may have seemed at the time.
Oh, lest I forget…terrific music from Sanna Salmekallio.
Written on 10/21/2018