In the 1970s, a 12-year-old boy Esko lives in Tornio, northern Finland, a town bordering Sweden across the river. Esko befriends a Swedish boy, Pate, and learns to share his obsession for ... See full summary »
In the 1970s, a 12-year-old boy Esko lives in Tornio, northern Finland, a town bordering Sweden across the river. Esko befriends a Swedish boy, Pate, and learns to share his obsession for Harry Houdini, the legendary escape artist. While standing handcuffed on the railway bridge, contemplating a stunt jump into the icy river, he reminisces the dramatic events of the summer before. For the viewer, his problems are presented with warm humour # gang fights, feeling guilty for lying, Father losing his job, Mother losing her nerves, not to mention Grandfather having lost his willingness to speak since a traumatic war experience 30 years earlier. Written by
"The Handcuff King" is another entry in the "nostalgic yet painful adolescence in rural Scandinavia" genre. This film has its share of sweet moments, but there are more painful ones as the central character, a young Finnish boy named Esko, has to deal with a dysfunctional family living in poverty. At the same time he is abused and shunned by his classmates and former buddies. The only redeeming feature in his other dismal life is the tenuous friendship he forms with a nice Swedish lad from across the border. Esko is appealingly imaginative, but the film is marred by some technical flaws, as well as by its descent into emotional manipulation. At the end, I couldn't help feeling that what Esko and his family really needed was a very good therapist and access to a steady supply of anti-depressants.
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