Inspired by real events, this Dogma-like depiction of the misadventures of four teenage brothers who turn to crime in rural Finland boasts top performances from a quartet of charismatic actors, and has been a major B.O. smash on its home territory. Fests might be attracted to this youth-oriented item, if the hand-held camerawork and dyslectic editing are not seen as a turn-off, with commercial chances outside Finland limited to ancillary at best.
Pekka Lehtosaari’s screenplay is based on newspaper accounts, written in 2000, about the Koistinen brothers, re-named Takkunen for the film. The quartet, Eero (Jasper Paakkonen), Ilkka (Lauri Nurkse), Otto (Peter Franzen) and Matti (Niko Saarela), live on the outskirts of a small town. Their mother is dead and their father, Jouko (Vesa-Matti Loiri), is in a mental hospital after a lifetime of excessive alcohol intake. Jouko, a sadistic paranoid-schizophrenic, has apparently abused his sons for years.
The boys keep fit by weight-lifting (the film is filled with beefcake scenes as they flex their tanned torsos), and they are basically peaceable. But, because of their father’s fearsome reputation, they are outcasts in this redneck backwater.
Eero, the most sensitive , still attends school, where he’s constantly bullied by the local biker boys. Nonetheless, he starts dating the precocious Pirjo (Elsa Saisio), daughter of the local police superintendent (Risto Tuorila).
But the brothers’ upbringing is beginning to impact on their lives. As kids, they were denied such basics as television and books (they read only comics). They are socially inept, however, they don’t drink, smoke or swear, and they’re kind to animals. They would be model citizens, except for the fact that their neighbors keep them at arm’s length.
Unable to make ends meet and basically mad at the world, the Takkunen brothers take to crime, robbing petrol stations and a post office. To add to their woes, their father escapes from the mental hospital .
The boys brief career as criminals allows them a degree of freedom they never knew before, and they begin to make tentative attempts to interact socially with normal people.
The four young actors register strongly, especially Paakkonen as the smoldering Eero whose tentative romance represents a first step away from the repressed isolation of his upbringing. Vesa-Matti Loiri is suitably gross as the terrible father.
However the influence of Dogma on this gritty yarn is unhealthy. The jerky hand-held camerawork and the needlessly choppy and disruptive editing style detract from the impact of this sad little story.