Finnish Blood Swedish Heart
Dir: Mika Ronkainen. Finland. 2012. 90mins
An engaging and occasionally inventive road movie/documentary, Finnish Blood Swedish Heart (Laulu koti-ikävästä) deals with the issue of Finnish/Swedish immigration: an emotive subject to many people from Nordic countries.
Director Mika Ronkainen tries to buoy the action along by interspersing the action with clips of bands singing live in various locations on the trip.
Despite having a successful career as a rock star as well as a fulfilling family life, Kai Latvalehto has always felt something missing. Growing up in Sweden and moving to Finland as a young boy he’s always had the feeling that he’s trapped between two cultures. In order to try and fill the hole in his life Latvalehto embarks on a road trip to Sweden with his father. As he starts to remember his childhood, his relationship with his father starts to irrevocably change as secrets from the past coming pouring out.
Given its subject matter the film certainly has a resonance for Finnish and Swedish audiences and the subtleties of its exploration of Swedish and Finnish identity may be lost on people outside of those countries. But there’s enough here that manages to hold the interest, including Latvalehto – who cuts a dour yet sympathetic presence – and his relationship with his father. Much of this relationship us told through ellipses and snatched conversation during the duo’s car journey through Sweden. There’s some genuinely moving moments – and gentle drops of humour (especially near the end) - as Latvalehto’s father opens up to his son.
Director Mika Ronkainen tries to buoy the action along by interspersing the action with clips of bands singing live in various locations on the trip (acting almost like a Greek chorus) which are fun if, again, containing some ideas that may go over the heads of audiences not from the area.
Recently receiving premieres at the Gothenberg Film Festival and DocPoint Festival in Helsinki, the film will be released in cinemas in Sweden and Finland over the next month and the film should prove of interest to documentary festivals, though its regionally specific subject matter may find distributors unwilling to take a punt.
Production company/sales: Klaffi Productions, www.klaffi.com
Producers: Ulla Simonen, Klaffi Tuotanno
Cinematography: Vesa Taipaleenmäki
Editor: Åsa Mossberg
With: Kai Latvalehto