Moonlight Sonata-Movie Review-Finland Movie

Moonlight Sonata Film Review-Finland Movie Finnish

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Moonlight Sonata

Dir. Olli Soinio
Finland, 1988
35mm 90 min.
Finnish with English subtitles

A female fashion model (Tiina Björkman) takes leave from the fashion business and goes to Finland's Lapland (a wilderness region in Northern Finland, better known as the home of Santa Claus) for a vacation. Little does she know that there's a totally lunatic bunch of local hillbillies living in a nearby farmhouse.

The plot thickens as one of the residents begins to harass Anni, who is left alone in the wilderness with only her dog to protect her. Too bad for her that her dog turns out to have divided loyalties.

Finnishness and its stereotypes have typically been constructed in the capital city of Helsinki, but the substance of Finnishness has been collected from the countryside; since the identity of Helsinki has been thin and the urban culture in Finland weak, the raw material for Finnish identity has been sought in the historical counties.

The mythical stereotypes of city (a place of corruption) and country (a place of innocence) were mostly abandoned by the new wave of Finnish cinema from the mid-1960s onwards; in some cases the earlier opposition between city and country was completely reversed, with films describing the adventures of urban people in a strange rural environment.

Strangers are not always accepted easily in closed rural communities, at least not in the realities of some Finnish films. The urban-rural myth lives decades later, but there are more conscious - and also ironic - reinterpretations of it. In Moonlight Sonata, the landscape looks idyllic in a setting of sparkling snow.

At first, the wilderness seems to be the perfect solution for the girl to solve her problems and find some peace, but soon the peaceful countryside turns to a topophobic place. The fear of the backwoods has a long-running tradition in American cinema as well, and renders Moonlight Sonata a fitting complement to films like Deliverance, Just Before Dawn and Wendigo.

Kier-La Janisse