A disturbing little film about a young woman dangerously obsessed with a need for love and affection, “The Collector” is a cool debut for writer-director Auli Mantila and a showcase for actress Leea Klemola in her first starring role. Though not strong enough for theatrical bookings outside Scandi territories, pic is a natural for fests and for select TV spots.
Like the male protagonist of John Fowles’ novel “The Collector” and of William Wyler’s 1965 film adaptation, Eevi, the central character here, is given scant motivation for her antisocial behavior. Attractive but evidently mentally disturbed, Eevi lives with her sister, Ami (Elina Hurme), who has become fed up with her lack of privacy. Wanting to spend quality time with her lesbian lover, Ami tells Eevi to find a new place to live, and Eevi reacts badly, stealing her sister’s car and hitting the road in an aimless search for love and companionship.
She picks up Jusu (Robin Svartstrom), a hitchhiker who unwisely rejects her overeager sexual advances; he becomes the first victim of this deranged “collector,” who later kidnaps Anja (Rea Mauranen), a middle-aged woman who happens to be a collector herself — of butterflies (an echo of the Wyler film).
Mantila handles this grim tale in jagged style, deliberately leaving gaps in the narrative as she follows the downward spiral of her troubled protagonist. Klemola excels in the central role, her pallid exterior barely concealing the character’s inner turmoil, and she delivers convincingly out-of-control tantrums. The film contains a couple of moments of violence that are the more shocking because they’re quite unexpected.
Supporting performances are all good, with Mauranen winning sympathy in the role of the woman who finds herself a prisoner in her own home.
Production values are top-drawer, especially Heikki Farm’s sharp lensing. There’s a good use of several popular songs on the soundtrack, including ironic placement of the Finnish version of “Sunny.”