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I have a lot to relate to in this film. I grew up in a small Central Finnish town, near to where this was shot, and municipal politics was part of our daily life. The sense of time and place are very strong (unlike most Finnish films set in the countryside). Even though many of the actors are familiar from numerous roles, they all make convincing characters.
The main problem is that the municipal satire (occasionally descending into lowbrow farce) seems a completely different film from bank director Haapanen's personal tragedy. The former is lively and fascinating, the latter boring, uninteresting, one-note and laughable. There are many undeveloped themes (the right-wingers who influence things from prison, the gravestone swindlers) and unbelievable scenes, most notably the first crook who bothers to build an illegal radio system to insult the municipal leaders before escaping with everyone's money. Diversions like this clash with the general realism too badly.
Critics were annoyed by director Niskanen's star performance - he had played too many tormented, well-meaning men who are crushed by their circumstances. The critical slurs hurt him so much that he didn't play the leading role in any of his later films. I think that his performance is very good, it is the script that he should have thought about more carefully.
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