🇫🇮 SYYSPRINSSI (LOVE AND FURY) 🇫🇮
Syysprinssi (2016) aka Love and Fury is a Finnish drama/romance feature film on Netflix U.K., AppleTV US, Can & Aus (to rent/buy). 1 hour 34 minutes. Cert 15 U.K. In Finnish with subtitles.
“In 1980’s Helsinki, a city about to burst with young energy and rebellion, two young writers determined to conquer the world fall madly in love. For Inka, the love affair puts everything in motion: she finds her own voice, publishes her first novel – and becomes a sensation. The intensity of their relationship has a different effect on Juhana, who starts to lose his grip on writing and, finally, life. At the height of the love affair Inka starts to suspect that their mad love might actually be real madness.” IMDb
Laura Birn as Inka Pajunen
Lauri Tilkanen as Juhana Mannermaa
Kaija Pakarinen as Inkan äiti
Tiina Weckström as Sirkka
Johannes Holopainen as Olli Järvinen
Paula Vesala as Aino
Olavi Uusivirta as Tintti
Sara Melleri as Hille
Aku Sipola as Marko
Lauri Tanskanen as Nikolai
Director: Alli Haapasalo
Writer: Alli Haapasalo, Anja Snellman (novel)
Composer: Glenn H. Patscha
Cinematographer: Rauno Ronkainen
Editor: Tuuli Kuittinen
Costume: Karoliina Koiso-Kanttila
Syysprinssi (Autumn Prince) is a novel by the Finnish author Anja Snellman which was published in 1996.
Lauri Tilkanen is best known outside of Finland for his role as Sarkari Nurmi in the hit show Deadwind (Karppi) on Netflix. Laura Birn has recently played the role of Demerzel on AppleTV’s Foundation. Kaija Pakarinen played Marjatta in Deadwind season 2 and was in Man in Room 301. Tiina Weckström has most recently been seen in Bordertown: Mural Murders. Johannes Holopainen will be familiar to anyone who has watched All the Sins, where he plays Lauri Räihä in both seasons 1 and 2. Olavi Uusivirta is also in Deadwind seasons 2 and 3 as Henri Kuusinen. Lauri Tanskanen has been in Thicker Than Water (as Iiro in season 2) and Bordertown (as Santeri Kaminen in season 1).
Rauno Ronkonen is a multi-award-winning cinematographer who has worked on projects such as Omerta 12/6, Bullets, The Eternal Road and The Midwife.
Kolmikula, Helsinki, Finland
Tehtaankatu, Ullanlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Vanha Ylioppilastalo, Helsinki, Finland
“I want to tell you the truth about youth and love. The truth about a feeling that you can only feel once. A feeling that makes you so crazy that you’re willing to sacrifice everything. For the rest of your life you’ll miss the things you found revolting and caused you the most pain.”
Syysprinssi (Love and Fury) arrived on Netflix U.K. in November 2021 and grabbed my attention principally because one of the co-stars is Lauri Tilkanen who I already knew from Deadwind and the Finnish film Tom of Finland which I recently watched and reviewed. The premise of this newly arrived feature film was immediately appealing (as was the trailer) especially as it reminded me a little of Joachim Trier’s Reprise. What would make of this, my second Finnish film?
There are aspects of Syysprinssi that I really liked a great deal such as the design, especially the colour palette and the costume design. The cinematography is excellent and editing is of a very high standard. The locations are great and sets are beautifully dressed. The music was, I thought, extremely good and it created atmosphere well.
The performance of Lauri Tilkanen is exceptional in this with him showing great range and emotional depth. He is also believable as an older man. The rest of the cast do well in supporting roles but I did find Laura Birn’s portrayal of Inka Pajunen unaffecting, especially as the film is told from her perspective (at least this is what the film aims to do).
Now, there is a whole “thing” in Finnish culture about not showing feelings such as anger (pretty much any “big” feelings actually) and at this point, I am wondering how much this directly affects Finnish films and how we, as non-Finns related to them… However, I have not found this to be an issue with any Finnish TV shows I have watched such as Deadwind, Bordertown or All the Sins. With Syysprinssi I struggled to care about the two main characters much at all until the first “wobble” that Juhana has. Up until that point they come over as pretty young things hitting against a literary establishment in a petulant, somewhat conceited way. Now, I may have got that completely wrong, but that is how this came over.
One of the main issues with this film is a continuing lack of connection to the two main characters so that when things happen to them we just do not get the heightened emotional impact that we should be getting. I do not think this is down to performances, although Inka Pajunen comes over as a cold figure whose reactions seem to lack any real degree of distress. As an example, I offer the incident when she comes across the transcript of the novel that Juhana has been writing where it is littered with words that indicate he is really not “alright”. She continually comes over as something of a cold fish who dumps him when he is at his worst mentally.
Another major issue for me is the narrative itself. Now, I enjoy an obscure and challenging film as much as the next person, but this one just did not work for me. We have muddied motivations and are left with an overall feeling of “Is that it? What was THAT about? Why did we only see THIS right at the end? Why WAS she even there visiting him all those years later?” I do enjoy films that make me think hard after them (honestly, I do) but not in this way. Because this narrative does not work (despite the “bookends” both visual and verbal) it seems to hinder that connection with characters that I have mentioned before. This is clearly a story that is supposed to arouse feelings in the audience, to make us feel for the main characters, to be deeply saddened by what happens, and yet… yet… it fails to do just that.
In conclusion, there are facets of Syysprinssi that are very well done, but overall I found it to be both disappointing and curiously unaffecting – almost as if there were a glass wall between myself and the characters. We do not get a chance to watch many Finnish films however, so in that respect, it may be worth the watch along with the fact that Lauri Tilkanen looks absolutely stunning in it.
“I think… that writing about a certain time means that time is over. Writing about it is, in a way, erasing it. Or substituting it. That’s why I feel… that writing is essentially dangerous.” (But is it? Really?)
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