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Paha Maa

Paha Maa (aka Frozen Land) (Finland 2005)

Director: Aku Louhimies

Producer: Markus Selin

Cast: Mikko Leppilampi, Matleena Kuusniemi, Petteri Summanen, Jasper Pääkkönen, Sulevi Peltola, Mikko Kouki, Pamela Tola, Pertti Sveholm, Samuli Edelmann

Paha Maa might be the best Finnish movie of all time. It’s definitely one of the roughest movies I’ve seen. The content could be compared to Requiem For a Dream, except that this is not about drugs, hallucinations and fast editing. This is about real, everyday life at its worst: alcoholism, unemployment, violence, grief and death. The extreme realism makes this movie very hard to watch.

There’s no point telling more about the story, because there really isn’t any specific plot. This is about life. It feels like the character are randomly selected people who have serious problems in life. The camera just happens to be there and capture these events. The audiece doesn’t feel like watching a movie/story, it’s more like wathing a documentary. In this aspect it reminds a bit of Larry Clark’s film Kids.

I have never seen characters this real. They really feel like real persons instead of a movie characters. There are no heroes in this movie, everyone is a loser. The first half of the movie has some humour in it, but the rest of the movie icludes some of the darkest character drama ever commited to celluloid. The difference between this movie and typical �hard� hollywood films is huge.

Actors in this movie are exellent. They have been brave accepting roles as controversial as these. This is also a great proof of the difference between top finnish actors and top hollywood actors. I honestly can’t imagine any popular american actor taking roles like these. When did you last see your favourite actor doing something like beating his five year old child in a movie?

Unfortunately, even in Finland, movies are made because of money. So, when everybody else in the crew were willing to risk their careers, the producer started thinking about making the profit. The producer, Markus Selin, thought the film was too rough and artistic even for a finnish audience, and wanted to make it more commercial. This lead into a big argument between Selin and the director Louhimies. In the end they came to an understanding about the final version of the film. Surprisingly, their dissagreement doesn’t seem to have affected on the movies quality.

Paha Maa might very well became the directors international breakthrough. However, the film will always have the biggest impact on finnish people. It brings up numerous problems of finnish society without embellishing the facts. Because of that, many people are going to hate every second of the movie. This film is simply too truthful for some people. It’s not a feel-good movie that you could just forget when you leave the cinema. Insted it will leave you depressed and sad. But it will make you think. And that’s quite rare in movies.


(I expect the film to open at least in nordic countries in the near future. And I’m willing to bet this will be shown at Cannes this year.)

I just saw Amores Perros and thought it had a lot in common with Paha Maa. There are many differences too, but that’s mostly because finnish and mexican societies is so different. Amores Perros was more fast paced but the overall tone of these films is very similar. Both are depressing and hard to watch.