Naked Harbour (2012) Poster


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Touching but wildly uneven
The Truth15 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Like his previous movie, Frozen Land ("Paha maa"), Aku Louhimies's Vuosaari is a film with a large cast and several parallel story lines, which he tries to tie together with an unifying theme. Like with Frozen Land, Louhimies pretty much fails in that task. In Frozen Land the grand theme seemed to be "bad things happen to people", whereas in this one it's even more vague, namely "love". Other than that, the only factor uniting the stories is the suburb of Vuosaari in Helsinki, but even this is mainly used as a mere backdrop. Real-life Vuosaari is a largely working-class area with a big immigrant population, and while Louhimies does shortly address the situation of immigrants in a few scenes, the movie doesn't really have any grand societal vision. Like Frozen Land, Vuosaari is mostly concerned with personal issues, not social ones. These same stories could have taken place in pretty much any suburb of Helsinki, or any other First World city.

For all his flaws Louhimies is still a masterful storyteller, able to distill most of his subplots into short, elegant scenes that are full emotion yet rarely syrupy. A few of the individual story lines in Vuosaari are very good in themselves. A subplot involving a single father concerned about his son and his weight, as well as another one dealing with a family man cheating his wife with their Estonian cleaner, offer an effective mixture of drama and comedy. A third subplot about with a kid who gets bullied in school, partly because of his Eastern European roots, is done with such empathy that it's almost impossible not to cry. However, the climax of this story again proves why Louhimies's lack of a wider focus is problematic. Racism/xenophobia and bullying are social problems, yet Vuosaari's solution to them is oh-so-individualist: the all-conquering love.

Some of the other subplots in Vuosaari feel much more out of place. The American actor Sean Pertwee seems to have been cast only to provide the opening narration with his deep, gravelly voice. Pertwee's actual scenes are few, and they could've easily been cut without the movie suffering a bit. Another subplot involves a kid with a negligent single mother, whose only friend is his dog. This story has no proper solution or catharsis, and it appears to be in the movie only to function as a maximum tear-jerker. Who wouldn't be touched by an emotionally abused kid and his loving dog? Another tear-jerker is the story of a single mother suffering from cancer, and of her small daughter's reaction to her illness. While this subplot is genuinely touching for the most part, as it's about to reach its climax, Louhimies for some reason decides to add a scene that intentionally misleads the viewers in order to extract a few more tears from them. Personally I find this kind of cinematic cheating pointless and cheap.

It's also worth noting that while Louhimies tries to understand and empathize with each of the male protagonists in Vuosaari, the same does not apply to all the women in it. Three of the female protagonists (the wife of the cheating husband, the young woman who's constantly high, the mother who neglects his son) are depicted as rather awful people, with little attempt to explain why they are that way. This is particularly evident in the cheater subplot. The cheating husband is portrayed as a sympathetic character, and his affair with the Estonian woman is justified by his wife being cold and bitchy, but we never really get to see her side of the story. What made her so cold and bitchy?

All in all, Vuosaari might have been a good movie if Louhimies had left out the weaker subplots, expanded on the remaining ones, and tried to make their thematic connections stronger. As such, the film is merely a collection of short stories, some better than others, but definitely less than the sum of its parts.
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If you want two hours of spoon fed emotions
rlaine30 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I don't think I've seen more than one movie from Louhimies before watching this. I had read somewhat favorable reviews of this movie so I decided to watch it as it was showing on TV.

Oh well, where to start. Maybe I'll begin by saying that after an hour I was seriously considering if I should continue or not. This movie consists of many stories that all take place in a suburb of Helsinki. You have junkies, drunks, eating disorder, cancer, battery, bullying, reality TV, nudity, battery, drinking, neglected children, stereotypes, sex, extreme stereotypes, single parents, sex, dysfunctional relationship, adultery, stereotypes, mistreatment. Oh did I mention sex and single parents, how about stereotypes?

This movie is bloated with clichés and stereotypes. It could have been made as many separate movies, The seven (?) story lines are not bad for the most part. Most of them are actually quite good, but the duration of two hours makes most of them overly simplified or just not beefy enough. It was really quite frustrating to watch emotional scene after emotional scene with all the character background and development cut out. It's like a two hour trailer of seven movies. Every time a story changes to another story, it jumps from drama to drama. You just watch it with your mouth open and think if they put all the unpleasant and sad situations they could figure out and squeezed them into one movie.

There are a few stories that are a bit better scripted than others, but some of the stories are nothing more than cheap tearjerkers. They start with a quick or a non-existent intro, unpleasant things happen, and then they end. Many times making you just ask "why?". A single parent (oh, did I mention there are single parents?) yells her guts out to her seven year old son. You have absolutely no clue why she acts so, it just makes you scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on. Why do these people behave like this? There are no backstories.

The movie in general is rather well made tho. Technically flawless. The acting is also good, but often pointless. Some characters are quite extreme and not very subtle, which gives performers possibility to show off. The children do a good job, they actually have the most subtle and nuanced performances here.

Then there are the thousand and one clichés about Finland, no thanks. And the constant use of sex, even in the cancer segment. Some misplaced jokes (did I hear a fart when an obese man was working out??). The soundtrack was there just to underline the already spoon fed emotional content. Or maybe shovel might be a better word for it.

Most women weren't very nicely portrayed in this movie. I also noticed that this movie shows Estonian and Russian women in a very stereotypical way. But then again almost all other characters are stereotypes too, so it's not that surprising.

If you like spoon fed emotions then this is for you. I'll give you a few examples, it's going to spoil a few segments, so skip the next few paragraphs if you don't want to read spoilers.

We have a boy who is always alone at home and his only friend is a dog that he's responsible for. His mother is very unlikable. Wine sipping, yelling, apparently a career woman, but we don't know for sure. Mother decides the dog isn't happy in the city and tells the boy she'll take the dog to the countryside where it has more space. The boy then overhears a conversation where his mother laughs with her friends about her actually killing the dog. End of story. There wasn't much purpose other than jerk tears. They've probably had the idea of showing how kids as young as 7 are getting too much responsibility and independence for their age, but the movie has such a simplified and underliney way of telling everything, it looses the core idea.

Or how about the teen girl willing to do everything for fame and not being "ordinary". Even if ending up in an x-rated video wasn't enough, they had to put in a random scene where this girl is eating tons of goodies and then throws up. "Hey, let's have her suffer from an eating disorder too!" This was particularly out of place, since Amanda Pilke's character is a very positive, friendly and charming character who clearly is just naive. Her (apparently) single father is probably the nicest and most normal character in the whole movie and their relationship seems very good.

I felt a bit similar after watching Crash (2004). It seems like a good movie with social commentary and all, but it's a really cheap way of telling it if you think about it.
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Emotions in Naked Harbour
info-267-90215625 February 2012
This powerful film is set a multi-cultural district of Finland that is home to many nationalities. This film follows several parallel stories one grey and cold winter week in a quest to find love and acceptance. In a world where societies expectations are high, and the pressures of every day life create a shroud of secrecy.

Naked Harbour has managed to bring out small glimpses of warmth and humanity. Moments that arouse those feelings of hope allowing the characters to connect with the audience. The vision of the director Aku Louhimies's, was for the viewers experience to be significant and therapeutic, leaving the viewer fragile in a unifying and healing way.

Viewing experience was so significant and unprecedented, that after the movie, I wanted to go to hug my loved ones, and that feeling was stronger than in a long time. I recommend this movie to everyone, who wants to feel.
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Full of passion & a universal humanity
danielle-fuller7 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw Naked Harbour at a Kennedy Center Film Festival, I did not expect to connect so deeply with these characters in this community in Finland. I am a Black woman from West Baltimore. I thought I was going to sit quietly, watch the film, and quietly whisper "How nice" at the end.

Nope. The writers, director and actors sucked me into their stories within the first few scenes. First, I was surprised to see an actor of color. Smiling to myself in the dark theater, I watched a tumultuous interracial relationship unfold on the screen. The girlfriend was verbally abusive and rather unpleasant. The comments that she made and the names she called her boyfriend made me angry. I shifted in my seat and grew hot under my collar as she berated her boyfriend. I have been in my fair share of interracial relationships and if any of my partners ever uttered the things that she said to him…there would be serious problems. But moments after the abuse, the couple embraced and groped each other…and then I had that aha moment. I felt the raw passion of their relationship and I understood their constant thrill seeking behavior. I got it. But it was so sweet because I could FEEL it.

I found myself muttering under my breath during another scene. This scene was between a wife and her cheating husband at dinner and later in the sauna as she exposes his infidelity in the presence of his young lover. At that moment in the film, I wanted to be in my best friend's basement as we sipped wine and shot glances full of bewilderment and anticipation across the room at each other. The actress who played the wife made me lean forward into her performance. I felt as connected to her and this scene as if I were watching Terry McMillian's Waiting to Exhale. This actress was Angela Bassett FIERCE! (And that is the highest of praises from me!) The Finnish actress was smoldering like the cigarette that Angela Bassett's character lit from the flames of her cheating husband's burning Mercedes after she set it ablaze. The Sauna scene in this film really fascinated me. The coolness of wife… she was so sophisticated and posh and then moments later she breaks down and her humanity bursts forth… wow.

I got sucked into each story. I felt what they felt… and I felt their passion… I connected with these characters even though it seemed like we were worlds apart. Each story was beautifully told. And I enjoyed every performance. I would go on and on…but I have to stop somewhere. I loved this movie!
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Breathtaking story, non-linear narrative, beautiful scenes
mohamedelfatatry19 February 2012
This film is simply remarkable: beautiful scenes, deep and non-linear narrative, and elaborate characters. The largest hall at the movie theater was packed, and I could hear some of the audience gasping for air during the film's intense moments which appear with regularity. The variety of characters allows you to relate to one or more of them and evokes real emotions. It takes you through a wide range: happiness, sadness, jealousy, anger, love, humor. After enjoying breathtaking visuals and touching stories throughout the film, the plot converges to perhaps the most important topic of our age: love (and how to find it). I was able to completely enjoy this movie (without subtitles) even though I understand very little Finnish. And the soundtrack: Robbie Williams - Feel is just perfect!
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After long time been in cinema and will remember this movie for a long time..
hs-hs-636-98449618 March 2013
Well, just returned from cinema and after seeing this movie and Im sure I will keep this movie in my mind for a long time. Despite all the scenes were in winter Finland - Im sure such a stories can happen anywhere...and to anybody. In some life stories could find parallels to my own life - so enjoyed that the director actually described - just normal life. Some parts were really touching my heart- especially that ones where kids were acting. I liked the way of describing everydays life and troubles - and promised myself to enjoy my actual life more and be more happy what I have now. I will definitely look around for other movies from this director, hopefully see more of them in cinemas...
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Oscar caliber film!
MisterE210823 September 2012
Incredible film! I sat and watched the film and couldn't believe a film as such came out of Finland?! Many of the performances were unexpectedly great. I've seen many foreign films over the years; mainly horror films, but 'Naked Harbour' in my opinion rivals many 2012 American dramas. Some may find the film boring and uneventful, but those sort of people are the ones who'll flock to films like 'Transformers and Twilight' and will never understand the purity of such a film as this. If the Oscars ignore this film I will be shocked and amazed. I recommend this film to all those who acknowledge that there are films like this in the world, to those who simply love...good films.
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Real eye and wrist opener
slayerholmes5 April 2014
Lots of Helsinki people having it rough it seems, particularly in that eastern suburbs region (very very far from the actual city) called 'Vuosaari'. Sex, violence, exploitation, drug abuse and so on and again and again and once more for the road (out of the theater that is, preferably asap).

So why our great film auteurs such as Louhimies always make these "real"-life dramas and very little else? The answer is simple: they require almost no talent or skill (especially scriptwise) whatsoever. None. And the actors are only allowed to show any emotions while they are intoxicated or otherwise crazy; once again no talent needed because whatever action is possible. The story of the whole Finnish film industry.
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Excellent Film... A Must See
Iplayprs14 March 2013
This film brought out many emotions in me as I was able to connect with many characters on a personal level. I was not sure if that would translate with a foreign film but it has exceeded my expectations. It was shot very well, the actors and child actors were wonderful and extremely well written. This film deserves the highest accolades and will be well worthy of all the award it will eventually win. I was delighted to see this film at a Nordic Film Festival and has made more of an impression on me than any foreign film ever has. I have been thinking about different parts of the movie on a daily basis since I saw it trying to analyze all the complex characters. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants a very unexpected treat!
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A powerful, passionate film from a brilliant director.
ErniePandish12 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Aku Louhimies follows up his masterful Frozen Land with another successful and intense exploration of humanity.

Several of the stories in Naked Habour could have worked very well as full-feature stand alone movies.

The directing, writing, camera-work and sound track are exceptional.

Amazing performances in a film that pulls you in with interesting characters... then reveals the deepness of their relationships in a realistic and natural way.

There is a realistic, natural craftsmanship in the way the stories in this film are presented. And an emotional quality that will having people watching and commenting on this film for years to come.

**** POSSIBLE SPOILERS**** Laura Birn plays a wounded character who lashes out at her boyfriend whenever he attempts to protect her... emotionally, physically and materially. Her unspoken back story is that she has been so hurt in the past, she cannot fully commit to trusting or caring.

Deogracias Masomi convincingly plays her boyfriend who - seemingly - gets in over his head.

The characters that Laura Birn and Deogracias Masomi portray and their complicated relationship was so riveting... it defines the words "on-screen chemistry." Hopefully, they'll do more movies together.

Matleena Kuusniemi presents us with a character too busy with her career to take care of her husband's needs or even think about divorce. What happens to her character is a modern cautionary tale.

Eemeli Louhimies is among the best young actors working today. He was very impressive and his story... while very timely... avoided a clichéd ending.

Alma Pöysti'a story is surprising, moving and hopeful. Centered around good writing, good acting and good directing. And a touching performance by the little girl who plays her daughter.

Jasper Pääkkönen, Amanda Pilke, and Mikko Kouki are all very solid in their performances. Really, there is very good acting all-around.

Everyone is convincing.

I highly recommend Naked Harbour as it is very well done in all aspects of film making.
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A powerful and brilliant film.
viking16816 April 2014
A powerful and well balanced film in any aspect; excellent acting, great directing, script and photo. See it, you won't be disappointed! From the very beginning it strikes a chord that hold you and gets deeper into your heart shot by shot. "We want to feel, we want to be touched...." The first lines epitomize the theme in this great film and connects to these epic lines by the Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg (Doctor Glass):

"We want to be loved, failing that, admired; failing that, feared; failing that, hated and scorned.

We want to instill some sort of feeling. Spirit shudder void and want contact at any price."
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Wonderful Movie - See It
thomasberman8920 January 2013
Just saw this at the Los Angeles Scandinavian Film Festival.

Wonderful movie that follows the stories of several very different people who are only connected by the fact that they live in the same part of town and are all struggling through a difficult time in their lives. This film examines some very intense and dark times in these people's lives, that will probably change them forever, but also shows real warmth and humanity. The characters are all very relatable in the sense that they're all experiencing the types of struggles that people deal with every day. It's a very real examination of what it's like for people to go through life and how each struggle is relative to a person's personal experience.

Watch it.
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Not the best in class from Finnish drama-comedy
rankaisia28 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It seems that this movie awake very emotional feelings in most people, for me it was seeing a moments of life which I have already seen in real life. Sadness, bitterness, needs etc. This film is only a shadow to "Paha Maa" or "Frozen land". If you like this, you probably like that more.

Not going to watch this again. 7 is my score, because 6 would be not equivalent and 8 too high, especially for them who "have seen it all".

For people who doesn't watch so much movies or TV-shows, I can recommend.

And for dramalovers, this is a most see of course :)
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