Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rural Route: That Special Summer

It turns out precocious kids are just as annoying in Swedish and Finnish, as in English. This does not necessarily have to be the case. Bázo, screening tomorrow at Scandinavia House, features strong performances by Issath and Jussi Juakim Gaup as the newly orphaned Kevin. That Special Summer (Kid Svensk, Swedish trailer here), the concluding film in the Rural Route Film Festival’s Scandinavia House series, is not so fortunate.

Kirsi, nick-named Kid, is in fact a seriously mixed-up youth. Fluent in Swedish and comfortable in her Swedish environment, she has grown apart from her Finnish mother Ester after her father’s untimely death. Of course, some bonding during a week’s vacation in the Finnish countryside will surely fix everything.

Traveling with Ester’s tarty best friend Sirkka and her metal-head son Jamppe, Kid’s disposition does not improve. Their picturesque plans for the trip involve opening an impromptu restaurant to cater to the motor rally that will pass right by their summer house. Ester also hopes to rekindle romance with her old flame, Sirkka’s brother Markku. In fact, she is seriously considering staying in Finland, a decision which would not thrill Kid. Happily though, all their deep-seated emotional problems are nicely resolved within the five day trip.

Summer is a mostly harmless coming of age tale, except for the constant sexual tension between the teenaged minors, which just gets a little creepy. However, it is also a little light on consequences for Kid’s constant acting out, notably including some reasonably significant larceny. It is what it is.

Bázo in contrast, is both more substantial and ultimately more rewarding. Very respectable child actors, the Gaup twins are among several young actors who contributed strong performances to films in the rural Scandinavian series. Sara Langebæk Gaarmann and Lucas Munk Billing were quite credible as the young leads in the Danish adventure-special effects film Island of Lost Souls. Particularly impressive were Hera Hilmarsdottir and Jörundur Ragnarsson as the truly troubled teens of Quiet Storm.

In comparison to the previous films in the series, Summer is a bit slight. Over all though, it was a strong slate of films. Again, one of the strongest, Bázo, screens tomorrow, while Summer screens this Saturday.