Aika jonka sain (One Half of Me) Review

I don’t usually write negatively about movies. I would much rather give recommendations and discuss the ways movies enrich our lives. But I’ve had this movie in all it’s shittiness on my mind for almost two weeks now, so I might as well try to get it out of my head.

Some spoilers, but you are not going to see the movie anyway, so what does it matter? It’s also based on the life of a real person with a somewhat public life, so you might even know what happened. And the fact that this is a biopic makes writing this harder. The story of the person is in itself interesting and could be inspirational. Emphasis on ‘could’. She deserved better than this.

A common complaint among Finnish filmmakers is the lack of resources. I bet this is something you hear in all countries, but in Finland it is true. The market is small and going out to the theatre to see a movie is not as big here as it is in US, for example. The problem is perpetuated by the fact that instead of investing into talented, interesting filmmakers, the powers-that-be throw the little available resources we have on talentless hacks. This is especially frustrating as just a few years ago it seemed that there was a renaissance of Finnish movies. It just sputtered out quickly.

Gladly, I didn’t actually pay to see this movie. Our union organized it as a part of international teacher’s day. Since most of the audience were middle-aged women, I guess they found the right audience for it. At least for this specific occasion. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have put some effort into the movie, though.

I knew early on that I’m not going to like this movie. The movie begins with a riding scene. Our main character and her friend are having fun riding, but for some reason the music is from a thriller. That just felt confusing. Isn’t this supposed to be a drama? The director used to be a professional musician, so shouldn’t he know better?

But that wasn’t the real problem. A little bit later, we have a very dramatic scene in which our main character instructs her children to run into the night as she knows her partner is going beat her up. We understand that this is a relatively common occurance in their lives. So, when the director pulled out that thriller music again, I just hated the movie. I don’t usually hate things as it just feels like I’m putting energy into something negative, but I just couldn’t help myself in this particular case. That just showed that the director didn’t understand his movie at all, nor does he actually have empathy for any of the characters. He just felt that he needed to feel something here, but couldn’t just really find it in himself to understand what he should be feeling.

The problems with the movie don’t end there. I guess our ‘star’ considers herself a real actor as she has taken the biggest role for herself, but she is just wooden. I didn’t even feel for her when she tried to kill herself, as she just isn’t at all believable in the role and so that scene just doesn’t feel like a natural progression of the story. The movie does have several good, professional actors, but they aren’t given much to do. The highlight in this regard is Satu Silvo, a true veteran, but we only get a few short scenes with her and they manage to lessen the impact of those scenes by both having her work with a complete amateur and not really giving us a reason to believe the way the relationship between the two evolves.

The structure of the movie is horrible. The first act just goes on for way too long, the second act feels like an afterthought and the third act shouldn’t even exist in its current form. The climax of the movie happens in the end of the second act, so the third act is just meaningless. Our supposedly heart-wrenching drama ends with dressage. Yes. They tried to make a mainstream movie with a big portion of it dedicated to slowly moving horses most of the audience are not going to find appealing in any way. It doesn’t help either that the multitude of sideplots are not actual plots. They are introduced and they are resolved later on (when you have definitely forgotten all abou them) in a couple of lines, but there is no arc to them. They are there just for padding.

And that second act… it feels like an infomercial for a medical institution. “These are the facilities and professionals we have available for your benefit.” The writers (who are also the producers, the director and his wife, who is also the star) just didn’t know how to construct the whole thing. This is supposed to be the meat of the movie, but its just more like meat-flavored broth, at best.

I guess this is what happens when you let someone make movies with no real oversight. The couple wrote, produced, starred in and directed the movie. There just should have been someone to tell them that you need to get an actual actor and you need to actually think about what you put into your script. The director’s track record just wasn’t good even before this movie. We are not talking Quentin Tarantino or Steven Spielberg here. You don’t give this much power to someone who just clearly doesn’t know what they are doing.

Making these movies isn’t rocket science. We see a bunch of these every year. They might not be the best movies, but when they have a compelling subject, have even mediocre writing and star actual actors, they are at least watchable and will make you feel some feels. This garbage fire just doesn’t manage to get two of the latter requirements right. A compelling subject just isn’t enough.

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