Films: Brothers

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Brothers  {Veljekset}


Finland, 2011, 90 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Finnish English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Mika Kaurismäki
Producer: Mika Kaurismäki
Editor: Mika Kaurismäki
Screenwriter: Mika Kaurismäki
Cinematographer: Tahvo Hirvonen
Principal Cast: Kari Heiskanen, Pertti Sveholm, Timo Torikka

One of Finland's leading directors, Mika Kaurismäki, uses a stormy family reunion at a dilapidated country house to pit three emotionally damaged sons against their boozy, reckless old father—and to examine their own crises of belief. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Kaurismäki uses The Brothers Karamazov as his model. Unlike Dostoevsky, though, the Finn lets his troubled brothers speak for themselves: most of the dialog here is unscripted, improvised from character outlines. The new twist? All three brothers have different mothers.

For this talented cast and for the audience, Kaurismäki's acting workshop succeeds beautifully. The interplay of the failed movie-producer brother Mitja (Timo Torikka), the nihilistic novelist Ivar (Kari Heiskanen), and the resentful, stay-at-home caregiver Torsti (Pertti Sveholm) is just right. If anything, though, veteran Esko Salminen upstages the boys as crusty old Paavo, who, even upon turning 70, is not above competing with his son Mitja for the favors of a buxom Russian cafe waitress—or faking his own death right there at the table with the strawberry birthday cake on it. “He's not human anymore, he's an animal,” poor Torsti laments, as Dad sets loose one of his wolfish grins. As for the director—who's taken his shots in Hollywood with the cult prison drama Condition Red—he wants the world to know what he is not, too. “I'm not a filmmaker,” he tells an interviewer. “I'm an anthropologist.”

(Unsubtitled trailer)

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