Valentin Vaala's retelling of Aleksis Kivi's famous 1864 play is the third film version of the tale, and the first one in shot in colour. The movie's plot follows the play fairly closely: a poor shoemaker Topias and his wife Martta (Lauri Leino and Alice Lyly) are keen on getting their simpleminded son Esko (Martti Kuningas) married as soon as possible, because a significant inheritance will be given to the kid who marries first; not to mention that Martta cannot stand the fiancé of their adopted daughter Jaana. With his sly friend Mikko Vilkastus (Helge Herala), Esko travels to the home of Kreeta, the girl who he thinks has been betrothed to him, but finds her celebrating her marriage to another man. Misunderstandings and other comedic incidents follow, as Esko begins his journey back home.
The most enjoyable part of the film is the visual style. The charmingly faded Sovcolor cinematography makes the people and the green forests look like they're in a painting, always complimenting the beauty of the scenery. Unfortunately, some other aspects of the movie haven't dated as well: particularly the crass overacting and constant shouting get tiresome quickly, even if some exaggeration is acceptable in such a down-to-earth comedy. The quickly spoken, old-fashioned dialogue doesn't sound very natural to modern ears, but retains echoes from Aleksis Kivi's original play and can be enjoyed as change from the normal language heard in most Finnish films.
Even with its flaws (mainly the over-the-top rampaging by the lead actors and the unresolved storyline regarding Mikko), there are successful details in the film too. Some of the more quiet characters, such as Karri and Antres (Jussi Oksa and Niilo Sale) are actually quite pleasantly portrayed and bring balance to the overall style of the film. As already mentioned, the scenery looks fine too and the cheery music is enjoyable as well. If you like old Finn-comedies and don't mind the overly loud and folksy performances, Vaala's Nummisuutarit might well be right up your alley giving it a chance is not necessarily a bad idea.
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