Two 18-year-olds from apostolic Lutheran families wind up sampling "Forbidden Fruit" in Finnish director Dome Karukoski's ("Home of the Dark Butterflies") melodramatic coming-of-ager.

Two 18-year-olds from apostolic Lutheran families wind up sampling “Forbidden Fruit” in Finnish director Dome Karukoski’s (“Home of the Dark Butterflies”) melodramatic coming-of-ager. Offering a superficial look at the strict fundamentalist beliefs of his country’s 110,000-strong Laestadian community, a sect that takes the Bible literally and prohibits contraceptives, television, alcohol, rhythmic dancing and premarital sex, pic is always watchable but seldom entirely plausible or emotionally satisfying. A domestic theatrical release is slated for mid-February; fests and tube constitute best bets for export.

Sassy brunette Maria (Amanda Pilke) leaves her repressive home in Northern Ostrobothnia to experience the pleasures of the flesh in Helsinki. She figures she can always repent and be welcomed back to the fold (“All your sins forgiven in the name and blood of Christ”) per Laestadian liturgy. When community elders dispatch Maria’s prissy blonde best friend Raakel (Marjut Maristo) to save her from eternal damnation, they fail to consider Raakel’s own vulnerabilities. Thesping throughout tends toward the histrionic. Tuomo Hutri’s fine widescreen camerawork does a better job depicting the capital’s worldly temptations than Aleksi Bardy’s script. Costumes and makeup sometimes feel at odds with the story.

Forbidden Fruit

Finland - Sweden

Production

A Sandrew Metronome (in Finland) release of a Helsinki-Filmi (Finland)/Anagram (Sweden)/YLE (Finland) production, with the support of Suomen Elokuvasaatio, SFI. (International sales: Nonstop Sales, Stockholm.) Produced by Aleksi Bardy. Executive producer, Olli Haikka. Co-producer, Martin Persson. Directed by Dome Karukoski. Screenplay, Aleksi Bardy.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Tuomo Hutri; editor, Harri Ylönen; music, Adam Norden; set designers, Antti Mattila, Antti Nikkinen; costume designer, Anna Vilppunen. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (competing), Jan. 28, 2009. Original title: Kielletty hedelma. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Marjut Maristo, Amanda Pilke, Joel Makinen, Jarkko Niemi, Olavi Uusivirta, Timo Tikka, Malla Malmivaara, Jani Volanen.

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