An average guy of an Estonian high-school decides to defend his bullied classmate. This starts war between him and the informal leader of the class. As teenagers' honour is a touchy thing, everything ends in bloodshed.
When a schoolteacher is sacked he projects his bad mood at his troubled teen son. He in turn buys a CD player from a pawnshop with counterfeit money. This causes a chain-reaction that ... See full summary »
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
In post-World War II Estonia, Mait Kukemeri, an activist of the Young Communist League arrives to the Metsa collective farm in the back of a travelling cinema truck. As a commissary of the ... See full summary »
A young writer called Mati is stalking his ex-wife, while also trying to make unsuccessful passes at other women. Augusti is a barber living a dreary bachelor life who forms a bond with little girl, but his approaches are misconstrued as pedophilia. Laura, a single mom, tears up over sappy soap operas, but refuses real-life advances from clueless men, because her ability to trust has been ruined by her violent drunk of an ex-husband. Maurer, the architect, worries about the wellbeing of humanity, but ignores his own wife Ulvi, who in turn looks for solace in the arms of a coatroom attendant named Theo. Women have always liked Theo, but due to his low social status, they don't take him seriously. All of these people might inhabit identical tower blocks, but they couldn't feel more alienated from each other if they tried. Written by
Moving, remarkable, insightful about ordinary things, but so low key it's also slow...
For an American, this is a great insight into ordinary life in Estonia, which is one of three small countries on the western rim of the Soviet Empire, and just south of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The paths of several ordinary people, mostly young people, are interwoven in a set of vignettes that complicate as these people live very contemporary and European style lives, but with a palpable sense of oppression. It's fascinating. It's supposed to be a Soviet era apartment complex, and has the trappings of the dystopia that represents, but the people are individualistic and expressive without a feeling of repression.
What presides more clearly is a feeling of sadness and depression. Sometimes there is distrust, other times downright abuse and brutality. There is very little joy, and very little love, at least in the open way we think of it. And so because of all this the movie bristles with irritations and perceptions about the normal world. It's a slice of life, done with sensitivity. It actually reminded me of some Scandinavian films I've seen in the last decade. Another review remarks that it has a Finnish echo (I just read this after making my own point), so maybe there is something to the film industry on the fringe of Europe, not overwhelmed by American/British movies, and perhaps feeling the oppression of the Soviet era in its art scene. And there is an echo of climate and light.
A key scene, certainly, toward the end, has a submissive coatcheck man release his pent up frustrations against a highrolling patron, who happens (with a bit of irony, I'm sure) to be a director. What does he direct? "Relationship comedies." And this (because it's so impossible an idea for this world, maybe?) sends the coatchecker into a rage. It's overdone, but it's followed by an older man laughing hysterically, all by himself on his bed, and it gives a little depth to the whole enterprise.
"Sugisball" (which means Autumn Ball) doesn't really make a case for why it's valuable, or special. I mean, besides being heartfelt and nicely penetrating, and focused on something that will someday soon seem historical, there is no terrific larger point, larger than its own subject. Maybe this is enough. It's totally absorbing, with a large array of actors, most of them very convincing. There are some touching scenes, some frankly sexual ones, and everything is very everyday. It may not be transforming, but it's superb in its own way. Take it for what it is.
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