It’s so great when you get to write positively about a Finnish movie. It doesn’t happen too often.
Let’s start here: If you are not Finnish, you probably haven’t heard of her, but the director/writer/star Anna Eriksson was one of the biggest musical stars in Finland during her time from mid-1990s to mid-2010s. She’s in the top 30 best selling Finnish musical acts of all time. But, turns out, she wasn’t really into that, so she decided to leave that life behind and make weird low-budget art movies. I, for one, appreciate that. You know, being rich might look like fun, but it actually doesn’t make people happy, so if you have the opportunity, do what makes you happy or at least fulfilled as it’s hard to see this movie as a product of happiness. It’s more like a cathartic release than anything else.
And she didn’t take the star route here either. She didn’t just direct/write/star in this, she’s also credited as the editor, sound designer, costumer, for the music and probably some other roles I missed. When you see small budget movie with the same person as the director, writer and the star, it’s usually ego-driven, but not here. This isn’t a personal puff piece. She’s known for her good looks and great voice, but here she degrades herself physically in a way that despite being naked through the film (except for an apparently very uncomfortable metallic harness), she isn’t exactly erotic, and she speaks (or mostly shouts) in a guttural voice. I would not have recognized her.
The movie starts with an explanation on the situation. We have Europa, a woman addicted to something she calls “liquid rouge” (hopefully this is the correct way to write this, as most of the dialogue is in French, which I have a very shallow understanding of) produced by her artificial man servant (who speaks Chinese for some reason). They are hiding out trying to escape a war in a hospital run by a group of delusional nurses, who are unwilling to accept that the regime they served no longer exists.
The story is not very complicated. Mostly we just follow the lives of these two groups, the latter of which have recently found a strange man, whose breast milk they are now using for sustenance. I told you it’s a weird movie. The nurses seem very alien. They perform certain duties and tasks, but it also seems like they don’t really understand the contexts or reasons behind them. They are also shown to deteriorate mentally.
It doesn’t really discuss how humanity or this little slice of humanity came to be in such a situation, but as we all know, the world is not in a good place right now, so you can insert your own reasons wherever (and they are related anyhow: climate change has and will result in wars and so forth). Does the movie need such discussion? Not necessarily. The movie is more of an expression of disgust and despair about where we are going. One could argue that at 102 minutes it was somewhat too long with it’s lack of plot, but it didn’t feel like that to me.
The budgetary limits (284.000 euros according to IMDb) of the movie do show, but they have also managed to make something very interesting within those limits. The crew is small, there aren’t many actors and there’s very limited number of locations, but that doesn’t really matter as long as you use them all well.
This isn’t really a movie for Eriksson’s old fanbase. She was a high profile popstar, now she’s an independent film maker with very limited resources, but she does have a vision. This is the kind of movie I liked (enjoyed would be the wrong word here), but can’t really recommend. It’s messed up, but in an interesting and thoughtful way. It sort of reminded me of the darker Tarkovsky movies, so if you are into that, maybe this is the movie for you.
Eriksson has made one other movie in the past called M (you know, inverted W), which I haven’t seen, but I am going to find the DVD from somewhere.