In a detention camp in 1918, a group of Finnish actors are sentenced to death. When an important German general arrives, the camp's vicious commandant forges out a cruel plan: the ... See full summary »
Pekka tells his parents and two sisters he is a successful businessman, while conning strangers for money and scraps of food. Things come to a head when the parents decide to come visit him unannounced.
'Tyhjio' ('Void') directed by Aleksi Salmenperä is the second Finnish film we saw at the Nordic film festival in which our local cinematheque participates. I confess that I am quite unfamiliar with this film school, with the notable exception of some of Aki Kaurismäki's films, and this film (as well as the one seen the night before) is a pleasant surprise, a cinematic experience as good as many other films from well-known and established European cinema industries. 'Tyhjio' is a comedy-drama (or a bitter comedy if you wish) that tells a lot about the love relationships of the times we live in, about creation, artists and the price they pay in private life, about the conflicts between true art and commercial kitsch.
It is obvious when watching the film that the director Aleksi Salmenperä does not start from scratch. The influence of Ingmar Bergman is evident in the intimate style and in the introvert personalities of the characters, and also in the theme that combines the life of a couple of artists with their creative crises and the conflict between what it takes to succeed and their own feelings. The relationship between Pihla, the successful local film actress who aspires to an international career, and Eero, the successful debut novelist hit by the drying of the sources of inspiration, looks amazingly up to a certain point but until then at the level of detail in some scenes and replicas, with the one between Bergman's Marianne and Johan in 'Scenes from a Marriage'. This is what Bergman's heroes might have looked like if his movie and play had been written and directed now and not in 1973. The social element that at Bergman is a kind of pre-metoo story is replaced here by a direct criticism by the independent director who is Salmenperä directed against the commercial cinema and the policy and behavior of the big studios towards female actors.
I liked many of the ideas and solutions of the screenwriter-director. Story-telling flows cursively and the two actors in the main roles (Laura Birn and Tommi Korpela) do their job with professionalism and naturalness. Around them orbit a gallery of well-outlined characters, played by professional actors and amateurs (some of them local celebrities in cameo roles). The familiarity of Salmenperä with the environment, problems and characters in the worlds of film and literature in today's Finland is evident. The combination of black and white and color film has logic beyond the aesthetic effect. Written and directed in a minor tone, 'Tyhjio' manages to make its way to the hearts of the viewers and creates an artistic and emotional impact. The director succeeds where his heroes in the film fail - in creating quality art.
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