Review: ‘Stars Above’

Pic intercuts the stories of three generations of women who live in the same cottage in the Finnish countryside, to tedious effect.

Stolid drama “Stars Above” intercuts the separate stories of three generations of women who live in the same cottage in the Finnish countryside, to tedious effect. Although this femme-centered period pic from writer-helmer Saara Cantell (“Heartbeats”) reps a rare commodity in the current Finnish cinema, the wooden performances, static compositions and distractingly improbable costumes all signal a rapid transition to the smallscreen.

In 1942, Saima (Irina Bjorklund) is a spunky schoolteacher who keeps the household running smoothly while her husband is at the front. Her secret affair with a hunky one-armed soldier/astronomer (Leo Honkonen) results in daughter Tuulikki (Meri Nenonen), seen in 1978 as an addle-brained, back-to-the-farm feminist. Between trying to raise her own daughter sans hubby, dye and weave her own wool, and plant an organic garden, Tuulikki discovers she can’t do it all and enjoy free love, too. In a contempo strand, Tuulikki’s grown daughter Salla (Elin Petersdottir), a lesbian academic with attitude, returns to the cottage for peace and quiet, but rowdy neighbor Ville (Lauri Tanskanen) and his cooking skills prove a distraction. Craft package has an over-bright, made-for-TV look.

Stars Above



A Nordisk Film release of a Pystymetsa, Pegasus Pictures production with the support of the Finnish Film Foundation, YLE, Icelandic Film Center. (International sales: Finnish Film Foundation, Helsinki.) Produced by Outi Rousu, Ella Piesala. Co-producer, Snorri Thorisson. Directed, written by Saara Cantell.


Camera (color), Marita Hallfors; editor, Saevar Gudmundsson; music, Sid Hille; art director, Pirjo Rossi; costume designer, Auli Turtjainen. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (competing), Feb. 1, 2012. Running time: 95 MIN.


Irina Bjorklund, Meri Nenonen, Elin Petersdottir, Lauri Tanskanen, Leo Honkonen, Senja Makiaho. (Finnish, English dialogue)

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