This is an adaptation of the novel by the female writer Sofi Oksanen - daughter of a Finn and an Estonian women (the latter emigrated to Finland yet in the Soviet era). One glance at this woman is enough to see what sort of person she is. People of art, especially in contemporary Scandinavia, are, quite frankly, those 'Jupiters', who are allowed a lot of things we 'oxen' are not allowed. But, seriously, getting acquainted with their works is order of magnitude more interesting and alluring than with, you know, socialist realism novels the authors of which were dressed in respectable jackets.
The same is here: the film based on the book by the contemporary Finnish émancipée really grabs me from the very first frame. The newly independent Estonia which has not yet entered into NATO and the EU. A cursed old house, like in some Grindcore song, hides numerous terrible secrets under its floorboards which are nailed perfectly still. Who lives in it, is of course a creepy old Finno-Ugric woman, who smokes better than an experienced young guy and grabs the sharp ax, should things go a bit wrong. She possesses a pistol as well, as it is later found out. An inscription like 'Russian whore' is shown off on the glass of her window. We see that a lot has gone through this backward old woman and that she would die hard anyway.
In her yard, a half dead escapee - a psycho prostitute girl, chased by her pimps - is trying to hide. Until the end it is not clear: whether God himself brought her exactly to THIS grandmother (in Estonia, after all those dreadful events they have survived, people do not believe in God: this is perhaps the only atheistic country in the world), or she knew beforehand who to seek. In general, in the abundance of flashbacks, the audience can easily read the extremely frank confession of the old Estonian woman, and there will be no doubt that the girl really was at the right time in the right place... And as for the bandits, they once again demonstrated all the riskiness of their ticklish 'craft'. Sometimes, they would get away in such scrapes, that even commandos would not. But here - just a miserable peasant old woman from a single-homestead settlement! Who knew that the granny was kind of Rambo! She would not be frightened by photos of mutilated corpses, by a knife or even by a pistol: in her lifetime, something worse could be seen...
And everything was right about the film (it even, dare I say it, is endowed with the aesthetics of death: puddles of blood with a metallic gleam, flames, carved autumn leaves), but the shocking end. I was just about standing up and cheering the 'Rambo grandmother' who had successfully born everything, when suddenly... The shock was not what I saw there. Shock was in irrationality of the final frame! She has survived all the atrocities throughout her life, if not a lightning incinerates me for such a cynicism, with flying colours. Whatever fell to her lot (torture and abuse, personal life failure and economic disruption) - she would just wash herself thoroughly (hence the name of the work) and her sly life goes on. But the fact of what the author made her heroine to do instead of the happy end, for me, crossed out everything that the author had spoken about the character above.
Hard to say what exactly influenced the author's choice of such a zigzag final (the novel and its film adaptation of the same name end the same, which of course, does not always happen). But one thing is certain. As long as society of many young nations (or rather of those which have existed for centuries, but almost always in their history dependent upon neighbours which have been more numerous, better politically organised and rich) perceives their past as 'genocide' ('playing the victim'), such stories will be just those caps that fit. Whether this is good or bad - who am I to judge. Dwell on the past and you may lose an eye; forget the past and you will lose both eyes out...
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