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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Narcotics are a fairly small problem in Finland, at least when compared
to most Western countries. Sill it exists, even in the more remote
areas such as Rovaniemi, the capital of the Finnish part of Lapland.
Reindeerspotting titled after a movie dealing with similar issues in
Scotland focuses on a young man whose life is filled with narcotics
and crime. It must have been the first time seeing drug use from such a
close perspective in my home country, and it made me better realize
Finland is no longer a haven far away from drug markets.
Despite being shot hand-held with what seemed like an ordinary consumer video camera by one of the friends of the main character, the documentary proved to be carefully compiled from material taken several years ago. It never got boring, as several incidents occur throughout the film, some of which were a bit shocking and some quite amusing. Most of the talking (despite being sometimes mumbling because of the drugs) is fascinating and humorous, and not placed there only to fill up the running time. First I felt that Jani, the main character, was ignorant and irresponsible but as he got more familiar to the viewer, the impression changed. He never blames anyone else for his problems and has modest dreams for his future. Therefore it's sad to know he died soon after the documentary was released.
I would recommend watching Reindeerspotting for anyone who won't start feeling sick from several close-ups of needle injections. I think it will give an interesting perspective to both Finns and others of a life with drugs in a different environment than the usual.
A story about real life, nothing subtle here. Really pisses me off that
Finnish government banned this documentary from minors for being "drug-
positive" -which it definitely isn't. Reindeerspotting is a neutral
view in narcotic life and it probably should be viewed as a part of
drug education of schools. I have seen a lot of acted films that just
mostly leaves the audience wondering why to even try taking drugs if
they are all bad.
After just a few minutes of watching it when it finally came out from Finnish national television I thought it would be boring, just showing the drug addicts needling themselves, since Jani gets his fingers cut out in the beginning. But the movie doesn't even get showing off the cut-out fingers, it develops into an interesting story, almost if it was all scripted and acted which it isn't. And it really goes "behind the scenes" while first showing just a low-life junkies, but after that showing they are normal people just like the rest of us, having a dream of leaving the drug-filled life, and getting a family and a house.
I truly did not expect this to be as good as it was.. It went on kind of slow at first, then some of the friendships seemed to just magically vanish.. really touching characters as they seemed like good people initially but due to the early addiction to opiates its always pretty much a guarantee that its going to clamp onto your soul until you be honest enough with yourself. I used to be a Junkie for 2 years and I was homeless for a small part of that. I know exactly what he was going through in so many scenarios and although this documentary ends on a seemingly light note its super sad to hear about how he hung himself shortly after this was completed and widely released. =[
This documentary evolves around a young Finn in the town of Rovaniemi
and his struggles in life there. Having been to Rovaniemi myself
several times, I can relate to the guy's view of pointlessness. He
clearly feels there is nothing for him in Lapland, and turns to drugs
as an act of escapism. This part of Finland is a very empty, and
sometimes a desolate looking land, if you're a dark hearted person.
Snow covers Lapland for 4 to 6 months a year, and the region around
Rovaniemi is empty.
So he turns to drugs. Everything from the real thing to drugs that are legal and only effective in large doses. I found this a rather interesting documentary because it sheds light on a problem one perhaps wouldn't expect to be an issue so far up north. The style of filming adds to the feel of 'being there'.
The main thing you're left wondering about after the documentary finishes is what happened to the guys afterwards. The footage used in it is obviously quite old as the guys still use the old Finnish currency (markka). It keeps one wondering.
this movie is not a REAL documentary in the sense that many of the
scenes are acted but yet there are some real raw scenes in the movie as
well. For a first movie, which was probably done with a regular video
camera that anyone can get their hands on, and a budget that wasn't
huge by any means, i believe, it delivers what it should. Rovaniemi is
a depressing town in Finland's North. The town is situated about 5km
south of the Arctic Circle and there is a tale told to all the children
when they are little, that Santa Claus lives there (In the arctic
circle, In Lapimaa, to be exact, for Scandinavian children). I have no
idea what people in U.S.A. tell to their kids but I think they just
believe that Santa lives somewhere cold like Canada or Alaska and then
when its the right time he rides his reindeers and drops the presents
town the chimney although there is none in the apartment, so instead,
someone rings the doorbell and - there it is - a big bag full of
presents. Sometimes Santa is there with the bag but sometimes he is so
busy that he just leaves the bag full of presents on Your doorstep for
all the family to take inside, put them under the Christmas tree and
then tell short Christmas poems in order to receive their gifts.
That is what in Scandinavia (Norway/Denmark/Iceland/Sweden/Finland/Baltic states/Germany etc) parents tell their children, in short.
In reality, its just a depressing town with 6 months of below zero weather 24hrs of the day and then about two to two and a half months of summer.
This movie tries to show the whole Rovaniemi drug scene but at some point of the movie it kinda "zooms" in on this one guy, who is a Subutex addict like all the other druggies in the town and not to spoil the movie or the ending I am not going to say any more but the second half of the movie is basically about this guy and his search for more and more Subutex.
There aren't any scenes that children shouldn't see so it's not a graphic movie but it's also a movie with a "plot" that children would mostly never understand or they would be bored to death after 15 minutes.
I recommend this movie for people who are interested in drug subculture, especially European. You get a peek into the life of Finnish youth in the extreme North where there is only their town and wilderness everywhere around them. If You think Finland is Helsinki, then this movie will open Your eyes a bit.
I live very close to Helsinki though not in Finland and can relate to the characters because there are people like this in my country too.
I wish it would've been more gritty and real but I understand that this type of movie could be made in Vancouvers famous Downtown Eastside. This is Rovaniemi, a town with a population of about 60k. There are no other towns of significance for a long ways each side. So if You happen to have born in Rovaniemi, there is a chance, that You have never even left the town. It's that isolated.
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