(International sales: Smile Entertainment, Helsinki.) Produced by Markus Selin.
Directed by Aleksi Makela. Screenplay by Aleksi Bardy. Camera (color, widescreen), Pini Hellstedt; editor, Kauko Lindfors; music, Kalle Chydenius; production designer, Risto Karhula; costume designer, Nina Puumalainen. Reviewed at Royal Cinema, Stockholm, April 8, 1999. (In Cannes Film Festival — market.) Original title: Hajyt. Running time: 99 MIN.
With: Samuli Edelmann, Juha Veijonen, Teemu Lehtila, Kalevi Haapoja, Arttu Kapulainen, Sari Havas, Eero Aho, Pia Latomaki, Kari Vaananen, Vesa Makela, Oiva Lohtander.
Apotentially powerful story is partly wasted in this violent story of two cons who return home and create havoc. Despite its cliched portrayal of Finns, pic has been a big success on home turf, pulling in 300,000 admissions and outstripping even “Armageddon.” Offshore prospects look much slimmer.
Bank robbers Jussi and Antti return home after five years in stir to find their buried loot gone. Accusing a neighbor of stealing it, they burn his farmhouse to the ground. Heikki, their former partner, is the new acting sheriff and becomes torn between loyalty to his friends and his promise to uphold the law. Pic resembles an inverted version of Swedish hit “The Hunters” — in which a cop returned home to find his old friends now thugs — but relationships between the three leads are undeveloped and get lost in drunken brawls. Perfs are good, with kudos to Samuli Edelmann, who creates a believable monster in Jussi, and tech credits are fine, with gritty, in-your-face lensing. Main characters are intended as modern versions of “hajyt,” peasants who robbed and killed at the turn of the century but have since become folk heroes.