There is a kind of checklist for Finnish movies – and I say it with love – that includes the snowy exterior, the vaguely hard interior, the ice fishing and killing someone with an ax. The story of cutting wood Tick each box, a few more. Characters who have just spoken, for example – and who, in fact, have nothing to say. When they do, there is a jarring humor that may not be humorous at all: their deadpan delivery gives nothing. This is the Finnish way.
Director / Writer Miko Milelati – a poet who also wrote the script for Juho Kuosmanen The happiest day of Oli Maki’s life, Which won a major award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016 – set its Can Critics Week title around a wood mill in an unnamed village in the far north of Finland. Pepe, the protagonist of Milelahati, is a woodcutter, played by the same actor who brought humanity like Oli Maki, Jarco Lahti.
Pepe is a brilliant innocent, everyone’s favorite. When we first met her, it was at a frustrated village bar, where everyone gathered for her birthday and, to her surprise, collected a lot of money as gifts. He immediately announces that the drink is on him. Pepe is kind; He never gets angry; He is cheerful and, as it turns out, can seemingly survive any misfortune with a good sense of humor.
There’s not much to do when no one has a birthday on endless Nordic nights: the villagers gather for cards, go fishing on the ice, or – as we’ll discover – entertain themselves with improbable sex. When a so-called “mental singer” brings his travel program to town and claims that he will be able to lead his way to the dead, everyone gets up. It’s a diversion. It can also shed light on the meaninglessness of existence, which men discuss in bars when they talk. “The life we are living seems meaningful to us, but it’s just an illusion,” says one “It’s scary to think that nothing matters.” It’s a social comedy written by Kierkegaard.
The story of cutting wood Also deeply depressed, strange and surreal. A ball of light could emerge from nowhere and explode just as suddenly, taking away Pep’s son. A car caught fire indiscriminately down the highway. We have a hint of a mysterious, snuffling animal. And who are those characters who, in a spectacular but misleading role, argue about the catastrophe already predestined for these decent villagers in the huts on the top of the hill, who clearly do not deserve it? Probably they are gods – although not the typical Nordic type, carrying a briefcase.
As usual misery descended on the villagers. The wooden faucet suddenly shuts down, not everyone works, and Pep’s best friend Tuma falls into despair. There are deaths including the aforesaid ax killing. Pepe gets the worst of it, but goes back to his bright red and white ski suit – the only strong color in a movie influenced by snow shadows – like an optimistic elf. Millihati says he has based Pepe on a real person. The resilience of the character is its primary theme, although you have to assume that the meaninglessness of existence comes close to one.
You can also feel the guiding spirit of the Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki The story of cutting wood, Including the whiff of Bunuel’s Surrealism. It is less detailed, however, than Kaurismaki’s recent films – despite the very wide, spectacular imagery of mountains and frozen lakes – with less sense of greater human potential. There are many plots, but there are some extensions where those twists somehow turn into a match like one weird blip follows another. And the unexplained weirdness doesn’t always sit well with the story of this community, although the weirdest thing – the last, can’t be revealed – is unexpectedly satisfying. Anyway, I like Miley Cyrus’ equestrian adventure. He saw a lively, strange story and left for it. He’s one to watch.