Vuosaari - Naked Harbour

Despondency, cruelty, death, misery in all its forms is the focus of the Finnish film Vuosaari. Wretched, exploitative and painful relationships are the theme, to a point were I had to wonder if anyone is happy in Vuosaari.

Much of Finland’s culture is, for me, obscured behind the language. For instance, this film subtitled Naked Harbour, when advertised immediately excited me as I live in the area. Unfortunately, I had to wait for English subtitles and finally had the opportunity to see it at Christmas.

While I was pleased to see familiar places, I also saw too many relationships – all of them doomed – to feel any form of compassion of connection with the characters to the point that even their names were immediately forgotten. Drugs, bullying, terminal illness, abuse, failing marriages, cheating, a mother killing her son’s dog, - it was a bit too much. Furthermore, the frequent and often impersonal sex and nudity was distracting, punctuating the flow of the film, just as any connections or emotions were beginning to form. Finally, the end is a onslaught of happy endings that seem disjointed as nothing about the plot gave us any hope.

Overall, I love the opportunity to see how Finns perceive themselves, Vuosaari is set among the ordinary; we see into the homes and watch the surroundings of ordinary people. A clever aspect of the film was reality TV, as addiction, a sedative and how it creates unrealistic expectations. TVs are constantly tuned to a Big Brother type show.

Vuosaari isn’t glossy, its characters have cellulite, beer bellies, some are plain and some are pretty – everyone is someone you may have bumped into at the supermarket.

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