Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Screwed (Pihalla)

Screwed, dir. Nils-Erik Ekblom, 2017 Finland, 100 min., in Finnish with English subtitles 💖
Monday, June 19, 6:30 p.m., Victoria Theatre: WORLD PREMIÈRE
Screwed (Pihalla)

Miku (Mikko Kauppila, right, in the maroon shirt) is 17 years old, making his first tentative forays into sex and sexuality. His older brother, black sheep of the family Sebu, talks him into throwing a big party while their parents are away. Of course, the house gets trashed, so Miku is exiled to spend the summer with his parents (and without his phone!) at their summer cottage in the country. He meets the (literal) boy next door, Elias (Valtteri Lehtinen, pictured left), and, only partly for lack of other options, they quickly bond, exploring the lake and each other, comparing notes on whose parents and siblings are more fucked up.

Screwed is another in the growing trend of coming out / coming-of-age movies in which being queer is only one of the adolescent issues, rather than the defining characteristic around which the bulk of the character and of the plot are drawn. It is refreshing to have sexuality be only one aspect of the story. That said, Screwed / Pihalla has earned a place in the pantheon of all-time greatest coming out moments in cinema history. It’s fairly late in the film, so I won’t give away the details, but there is a surprising twist, giving a fresh take on, “Mom, I’m gay,” and casting light on some mysteries from earlier in the story.

The filmmakers, writer/director Nils-Erik Ekblom and writer/producer Tom Norrgrann, told us at the Q&A that the script evolved during production, as they found the lead actors capable of much more than the light comedy originally written. To be sure, this is a comedy with its share of laugh-out-loud moments, but we also get real insight into the two young men individually and together, and into their family dynamics. The touching moments of genuine connection are interwoven into the comedy, giving a more solid foundation for us to laugh along with characters we care about. The wit and humor of the dialogue shine through clearly, even through the filter of subtitles; I imagine it might be even better if you speak Finnish, but don’t be afraid of the language barrier. Definitely a MUST SEE. Kiitos upeasta elokuvasta!

Special note regarding the opening sequence: At least in this cut, the film begins — even before the opening credits — with several brief scenes interspersed with ▶️⏸⏪; don’t worry, your theatre or your DVD player isn’t possessed by poltergeists, it’s a visual device to set up the characters and their relationships to one another.

Note: no official announcement yet regarding wider release of Screwed / Pihalla, but the filmmakers have been in talks with various distributors about segments of the worldwide film market. Keep an eye out for Screwed in a cinema near you, on DVD, and/or streaming online.

IMDb page • Official website English · Finnishfestival trailer • Facebook English · Finnish

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