A Moment In The Reeds ***
Starring: Janne Puustinen, Boodi Kabbani, Mika Melender
Starring: Mikko Makela
Earlier this year, Finnish movie Screwed was a pleasant surprise for LGBT movie fans, showcasing some brilliant talent from the Scandinavian country least known for its movie industry. Hot on its heels in A Moment In The Reeds, a second Finnish LGBT movie in the space of just a few months… but it doesn’t quite capture the same buzz as its predecessor.
Leevi (Puustinen) has escaped his suffocating family life and is living as a student in Paris. After the death of his mother, his relationship with his father (Melender) is strained, but when he returns to his family’s holiday home on the edge of a rural and secluded lake to help his Dad make repairs to the property before he sells it, tensions run high from the beginning. His attempts to help are hampered by his Dad’s constant chipping away at his masculinity, clearly unable to come to terms with his son’s sexuality. When Leevi refuses to help any longer, his father calls in some assistance from a labour agency, but is horrified when Tareq (Kabbani), a Syrian refugee, arrives who doesn’t speak a word of Finnish. Having to use his son as interpreter, he has to put aside his distaste for his gay son and his immigrant employee and the three have to work together to get the house completed, all while Leevi slowly begins to fall for the newcomer in their home.
There are times when this Finnish movie feels like it’s going down the same route as God’s Own Country. Its rural setting, manual labour and immigrant worker feels like very similar territory, but the difference here is that there is no inner turmoil for its protagonist. Leevi is very much in tune with his sexuality and so too is Tareq. It’s a love story, but the obstacle here isn’t anything internal. Actually, the obstacles aren’t really external either. Leevi doesn’t care what his father thinks, whereas Tareq’s story is littered with past pain and trauma, so his finding love in a new country isn’t a priority for him. In the end, there’s a blank frankness to the fact that this can only be a moment for either of them, with no scope for anything beyond this brief interlude in both their lives. Subsequently, the stakes end up feeling pretty low, which makes the film deflate rather than climax.
Leevi’s father has all the potential from the beginning of being the bigot that stands in their way, but he is absent for the entirety of the second act, only resurfacing during the last ten minutes of the film. As a result, a good portion of the film is a duologue between the lovers, which is interspersed with vistas of the couple frolicking, literally, in the titular reeds and the occasional copulation sequence, which leaves very little to the imagination. There is a delicacy to their dialogue at times, but there certainly isn’t to the wild abandon of their lovemaking.
In terms of character and ambience, the film manages to clamber onto its Bambi-legs, but in the grand scheme of its genre, A Moment In The Reeds is by no means a stand-out. There is no great love here, nor any great impediment, but as moments among the reeds go, I guess it is in the top percentile… but only because I don’t think I’ve witnessed many other moments in the reeds on film, unless you count Biblical movies about Moses.
OUT 15TH OCTOBER ON DVD AND ON DEMAND FROM PECCADILLO PICTURES.
Click here for more info.