You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Road North

Finnish helmer Mika Kaurismaki's best films have dealt with music or road trips, and his latest combines both elements with plenty of heart.

With: Vesa-Matti Loiri, Samuli Edelmann, Mari Perankoski, Irina Bjorklund, Peter Franzen, Minni Laakso.

Finnish helmer Mika Kaurismaki’s best films have dealt with music or road trips. His latest combines both elements with plenty of heart, as a prodigal father returns to Helsinki to reconnect with the son he abandoned 35 years earlier and con him into a journey on the “Road North.” Boasting the venerable Vesa-Matti Loiri (a prizewinning vocalist as well as thesp) as the roguish pa, and popular actor-songster Samuli Edelmann (“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”), cast against type as his uptight concert-pianist progeny, this jaunty comedy should accumulate substantial fest mileage on its way to niche arthouse dates offshore.

Pic has performed well in Finland, where it opened at the top of the box office on Aug. 24 and has since drawn more than 36,000 admissions.

Overweight and shambling but still charismatic, Leo (Loiri) has lived to pursue pleasure, always fleeing when he encountered problems. Now, as he nears the end of his metaphoric road, he wants to patch up all the potholes, although in his own unconventional, not necessarily legal way. At first, Timo (Edelmann, here looking positively svelte) seems like Leo’s polar opposite, bound by rules, engagements and a constantly buzzing cellphone. But, out on the highway in the red Catalina convertible that Leo steals for the ride, he proves a chip off the old block.

Although Leo has an ultimate destination in mind, he plays it close to the vest. Instead, he insists that they visit some relatives completely unknown to Timo. A stop at the home of Minna (Mari Perankoski), Timo’s newly discovered half-sister, occasions an ur-Finnish sauna scene and a hilarious fight between Timo and Minna’s ultra-sociable husband (Peter Franzen).

Pausing for the night at a hotel gives the men a chance to show off their musical chops in a swell scene where Leo croons a ballad and Timo accompanies him on keyboard. The encore is better yet, as the band Kaihon Karavaani (one of three composers of the pic’s soundtrack) takes the stage to back them for another number.

Up the Lapland way, just as the narrative seems as if it’s veering perilously close to a shaggy-dog story, Leo’s hidden intentions come to light, and Timo has a chance to connect with his estranged wife (Irina Bjorklund, luminous) and adorable daughter (Minni Laakso).

The views of the vast and beautiful Finnish countryside, the music choices and the casting of two of the country’s most beloved performers all show Kaurismaki celebrating his patrimony even as he gently satirizes male relationships. The overall tone is sweeter than usual for the helmer/co-writer, without being overly sentimental.

Central performances are broad but engaging. Sharp production package is appropriately colorful.

Road North


Production: A Marianna Films production. (International sales: the Yellow Affair, Helsinki.) Produced, directed by Mika Kaurismaki. Screenplay, Sami Keski-Vahala, Kaurismaki, from an original idea by Kaurismaki.

Crew: Camera (color), Jari Mutikainen; editor, Jukka Nykanen; music, Kaihon Karavaani, Mauri Sumen, Ilari Edelmann; production designer, Sasu Joutsi; costume designer, Riita-Maria Vehman; sound (Dolby Digital), Joonas Jyrala; associate producer, Pete Eklund. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 7, 2012. Running time: 110 MIN.

Cast: With: Vesa-Matti Loiri, Samuli Edelmann, Mari Perankoski, Irina Bjorklund, Peter Franzen, Minni Laakso.

More Scene

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Tina KnowlesSoul of Nation: Art in

    Jay-Z, Tina Knowles Celebrate New 'Soul of a Nation' Exhibit at Broad Museum

    “This show is so important. I mean, it’s our history — and it’s a very important part of our journey,” Tina Knowles Lawson said about Friday night’s opening of the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983” at the Broad Museum in DTLA. “I’m just so impressed [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content