23 June 2023.
SISU (De l’or et du sang) ****
Tarantino could not have done better. And that’s the truth – though it might put some people off, as it’s obviously a violent film. But it’s simply brilliant in its genre, for the ferocity is not gratuitous, it is part and parcel of the story. Strangely, it’s also satisfying and at times almost hilarious. Between a taut Tarantino yarn and a Nordic ‘spaghetti western’, this is a tightly-wound tale of a Finnish prospector who won’t let go of the gold he has found, Nazis or no Nazis!
It is 1944 in Finland, and the Germans are in retreat. In their rage, they are using a scorched-earth method, annihilating everything in their path. But then they come upon this Finn who is a legend in his country for having single-handedly eliminated some three hundred Russians, some time ago. Now, with all their tanks, men and artillery, the Germans mean to take his gold. He is after all just one fellow on a horse, with a pick and his faithful dog.
At a spare one-and-a-half hours, sectioned in neat chapters that set the continuity of the film, one is mesmerised by the savagery that follows, as the ‘immortal’ Finn defends his property in the most inventive ways. You have to see it to believe those impossible possibilities. Oh, and there is a truckload of girls in the German convoy who have been badly assaulted but come to life in a feminist fury when they realise this legend will not give up.
Finnish director Jalmari Helander has made an effective masterpiece in its category, with outstanding editing and cinematography. I don’t normally support violence, but this one is in a class by itself. As the saying goes, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”. Jorma Tommila, as the prospector, is better than any Marvel superhero, for he is a solitary human avenging his land. Grim and gory, but exhilarating and impressive.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.