Eros and Psyche

Though an opening disclaimer warns that "Eros and Psyche" is a sad story, it soon becomes apparent that it also is an exceedingly weird one.

Though an opening disclaimer warns that “Eros and Psyche” is a sad story, it soon becomes apparent that it also is an exceedingly weird one. Set in a seedy northern European harbor town, story is a freewheeling update on the Greek myth, where Eros is a drifter, mama Aphrodite runs an art gallery and Psyche works in a steel mill. With everyone talking stilted archaic dialog, this entry looks fairly frozen to Scandi turf.

A pet project of Finnish director Timo Linnasalo based on a stage play by Eeva-Liisa Manner, pic is a downbeat take on the love story between Aphrodite’s son and the nymph Psyche, who aroused the goddess’s anger because she was more beautiful.

Also present here is Eros’s father Morpheus (Markku Blomqvist), the owner of a bar where oddball characters congregate and sporadically burst into song or dance.

Poetry-prattling pretty boy Eros (Antii Reini) is more in love with love than with simple-hearted Psyche (Heli Takala), who is pregnant with his child. His perverse mom Aphrodite (Tuija Vuolle), made up and dressed as a Joan Collins parody, jealously gets the girl fired from the mill.

When Psyche finally sees the emptiness in her boyfriend, she throws herself under a train. It is the best escape from lines like “Your words insult but amuse me” and “Just as women are different, wines are different, too.”

Lensing by cinematographer Tahvo Hirvonen is one of the best things about the film, portraying the bar, harbor and streets as desolate wastelands of the soul. Also quite strong in a difficult, semi-abstract role is Takala, weighting this working-class Psyche with believable humanity.

Eros and Psyche

  • Production: A Reppufilmi production in association with Sputnik. Produced by Olli Vesala, Anssi Manttari. Directed by Timo Linnasalo. Screenplay, Linnasalo, Ilpo Tuomarila, based on a play by Eeva-Liisa Manner.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Tahvo Hirvonen; editor, Anne Lakanen; music, Heikki Valpola; production and costume designer, Sari Salmela; sound design (Dolby stereo), Jouko Lumme; choreography, Tommi Kitti. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 16, 1998. Running time: 94 MIN.
  • With: Eros - Antii Reini Psyche - Heli Takala Morpheus - Markku Blomqvist Aphrodite - Tuija Vuolle
  • Music By: