“Rolli” is a rollicking success story from Finland. A family pic about a conflict between Trolls and Elves in some indeterminate place and time, pic opened last December and out-performed “Harry Potter” at the box office in Finland. A month later it also picked up a handful of prizes at the Finnish National Film Awards, the Jussis, including one for Pini Hellstedt’s spectacular widescreen photography. Though the subject matter won’t mean much to small fry outside Scandinavia, pic is a good bet for some ancillary action, though care should be taken to preserve, if possible, the format of the consistently impressive Scope lensing.
A bunch of Trolls — evil-smelling, ragtag characters — arrive by sea on the shores of a foreign country. The Elves, peaceful, green-clad, longhaired blondes who live here, flee in the face of the invaders, and the Trolls move into their houses. But before long, the Troll chief dies (and is instantly re-incarnated as a turkey).
In the ensuing election to choose a new leader, the bullying, dim-witted giant, Big, makes certain he has no opposition. The sweetest of the Trolls, Rolli (Allu Tuppurainen, on whose story the screenplay is based), meanwhile makes himself at home in the house of the beautiful Millie (Maria Jarvenhelmi), an Elf who isn’t afraid to come and investigate the strange creature who’s invaded her property. Before long, an attraction develops between the Troll and the Elf.
Director Olli Saarela handles this fantasy with broad brushstrokes. The characters are all larger than life, anachronisms abound, and a great deal of fun is had by all. The story, such as it is, is very simple, but there’s a resounding message about the need for different peoples and races to live together in peace and harmony.
Production values are lush.