Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Frozen City (2006)

****
Finland

One of the year's strongest European films, Aku Louhimies' gritty-melancholy portrait of the inevitable meltdown of a Helsinki taxi driver, never made it out of festival purgatory (its predecessor, 'Frozen Land' [2005] was also restricted to the festival circuit).
Though it begins in a worryingly familiar fashion with clumsy Travis Bickle referencing, it very quickly ditches the hipster homage angle and evolves into something much meatier and more resonant. Unlike most excitable young male filmmakers, Louhimies isn't interested in the fetishising of antisocial macho vendettas. His particular anti-hero, as played by the sensitive, amiable Janne Virtanen, is a recently divorced Dad scrambling to balance alimony duties and a paltry paycheck. When he finally does go berserk - in circumstances as messy and obscure as only real life could ever deliver - there is no sense of release or exhilaration, only the suffocation of the last remaining glimmer of hope. It's a sincerely dark, devastating picture.

dir: Aku Louhimies
wr: Mikko Kouki, Aku Louhimies, Paavo Westerberg
cast: Janne Virtanen, Susanna Anteroinen, Aada Hämes, Hannele Lauri, Santeru Nuutinen, Jari Pehkonen, Vivi Hämes

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