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Overseas and Under Your Skin (2009)
"Maata meren alla" (original title)

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Ida is a woman who was adopted to Finland from Africa as a child. Ida is an unemployed seamstress approaching her thirties and still lives at home with her activist mother Kati. Kati wants ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Overseas and Under Your Skin (2009)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Amira Khalifa ...
Marja Packalén ...
Leena Uotila ...
Jarkko Niemi ...
Tomi Salmela ...
Margit Suonperä ...
Elina Vehkaoja ...
Sari Viitasalo ...
Kirjallisuuspiiriläinen (as Sari Viitasalo-Flander)
Leena Rapola ...
Liisa Isotalo ...
Kati Kinnunen ...
Annaleena Sipilä ...
Pekka Tuhkanen ...


Ida is a woman who was adopted to Finland from Africa as a child. Ida is an unemployed seamstress approaching her thirties and still lives at home with her activist mother Kati. Kati wants to fix her daughter's life and offers her a job at her work. Encouraged by her new friend Ville, Ida, however, sets out for Berlin in order to find a job and to prove to her mother that she can manage on her own. Meanwhile, Kati has been told that she is seriously ill, but she does not want to mention it to Ida in fear of standing in the way of her daughter's struggle for independence. Ida wants to have a life of her own, but what will she have left at the end of the day? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama






Release Date:

23 January 2009 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Ground Under Water  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€945,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director and writer Lenka Hellstedt says that two main themes interested her in the book from author Riikka Ala-Harja: adoption, since Hellstedt is an adoptive mother herself, and wanderlust, since Hellstedt had never lived abroad, even though she had similar plans as the main character Ida in the film. See more »


Ida: How can you say anything bad about herrings? They haven't done anything wrong. Their life is difficult but they have their dignity. They just quietly do what it is that they do. Minding their own business. They're modest, good quality and seriously underestimated.
See more »


Features Beat the Devil (1953) See more »


Viulukonsertto d-molli, op. 47 osa 3
Written by Jean Sibelius
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User Reviews

Ground Under Sea
19 October 2010 | by See all my reviews

Lenka Hellstedt is a Finnish female director probably best known for her feature film debut Me and Morrison (2001), the second part of the controversially sexual Levottomat trilogy. Her second feature film Overseas and Under Your Skin (or literally "Ground Under Sea") is an adaptation of a novel by Riikka Ala-Harja and deals with many emotions people often encounter when growing up and starting their lives on their own.

The protagonist of the story is Ida Dahl (Amira Khalifa), a young woman of African heritage who has been adopted and brought up by an idealistic woman named Kati (Marja Packalén) in an average small Finnish town. After recovering from years of depression, Ida feels suffocated by Kati's overbearing behaviour and longs to get out of her usual routines. Quickly she comes up with the idea of moving to Berlin to spread her wings and get to really know herself. There she befriends a German girl named Anita (Annika Ernst) who is also connected to Kati's past as left-wing feminist activist. However, the aging Kati has a serious secret and does not want to let go of her daughter.

As a dramedy, the film leans more towards drama, while the comedy is often based on Ida's exaggeratedly Finnish behaviour among the spontaneous Central Europeans: she initially rejects acts of kindness, feels uncomfortable in company and even suspects Anita might be a lesbian for being so nice to her. At the same time she is anxious to find a boyfriend and makes very awkward passes at a local masseur Deniz (Ismail Sahin). In a realist drama her behaviour could seem unfitting for someone of her age but provides decent comic relief in a lighter tale like this one. Ida's development towards a more open attitude is also related to the major theme of overcoming feelings of dependency, be it by leaving or letting go of somebody – by beginning or ending one's life as an individual among others.

The subplots about Ida's gay friend Ville (Matti Ristinen) seeking a relationship in their tiny hometown and the marital crisis of Kati's colleague Pipsa (Leena Uotila) don't feel as interesting as the main storyline, but I guess that's why they are only subplots in the first place. They do add their own little flavour to the whole though and are connected to the same themes with the Ida and Kati relationship. I liked the contradicting nature of Kati's demands for Ida; on one hand she tells her daughter to do something with her life but at the same time doesn't really want to lose her own significance to Ida. I'm sure those feelings are something almost any parent will go through when their children are growing up.

Amira Khalifa fits well in the role of the inexperienced Ida, but the redheaded Annika Ernst frequently steals the show with her natural perky charm and adorable appearance. In addition, I enjoyed the "la la la" compositions in the score by Anna-Mari Kähärä; suitably, their childlike atmosphere can also be linked to the central theme of growing up. Even though the final scenes' emotional effect may not be as powerful as in some "serious" dramas, the tone remains in good balance with the earlier atmosphere. To sum up, I enjoyed the movie and wouldn't mind seeing more drama-comedies like this one being produced in Finland.

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