Koti-ikävä (Home-Sickness) Is A Great Character Driven Finnish Tragedy
Koti-ikävä or "Home-Sickness" as translated from Finnish to English is a survival story about a boy named Sami who is committed to a youth mental institute. Sami is completely introverted and won't speak to his roommate or his orderly. Also, his arm is broken.
Sami's mother insists that her son is completely well and does not need the help of the institute. She is convinced that Sami is just getting over his parents recent divorce.
Through flash-backs into Samis recent life we begin to find out exactly what led to Sami being committed. Slowly Sami starts to heal. Unfortunately Samis mental health comes at a price which Sami must pay.
The movie is orange in its entirety. I was surprised that it didn't bother me at all. The "single colored" style gives the movie a nice feel of a hot Finnish summer (We don't have much warmth in this country). From beginning to end I felt that Koti-ikävä was very subjective. The Point-of-view is Sami's and almost Samis alone. A movie like this is easily made into a preaching statement about how bad people should be denied any rights within society and taken off the streets. Petri Kotwica (Director/Co-Writer of Koti-Ikävä with Selma Vilhunen) has managed to compile a touching (and in some degree horrific) story that only displays problems and tensions and doesn't even begin to give the viewer preset answers to these problems. The film is character-driven and there really is no villain, only ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
The Cinematography of this film is very Finnish. If you want to see a prime example of modern Finnish cinematography I recommend you see this film. Koti-ikävä has been influenced by Lars Von Trier and partners. Very much of the film is hand held shots and natural lighting, giving the film a touch of documentary style which works surprisingly well.
The lead actor Julius Lavonen is only 17 years-of-age and is (to my knowledge) not an especially experienced actor. Lavonens face doesn't move an inch during the entire movie. Even so, I almost couldn't believe how obvious Samis suffering and inner conflict is. Julius Lavonen manages to bring his characters mood and intentions across by a set of unbelievably minimalistic means. Having gone to High-school with most of the youth actors in this film I was delighted to see how well-rounded actors they've all become within their short existences.
All and all I give this movie an 8 (close to nine but better stay on the safe side). I liked it very much. This movie made me laugh and then only a few minutes later made me almost throw up with the most disgusting film scene I have ever seen. If you have a chance to see it
do so, it will be worth your money.
* * * * - 4 Stars. Iiro Peltonen, Finland
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