🇫🇮 LAW OF THE LAND 🇫🇮
Law of the Land (2017) is a Finnish-Norwegian co-produced crime/drama feature film available to rent or buy on Prime Video U.K., Roku and Freevee US, Apple TV Canada and New Zealand. 1 hour 26 minutes in length and rated 14 U.K. In Finnish and Swedish with embedded English subtitles.
“In this arctic western on the Finnish-Norwegian border, an illegitimate son of a retiring police officer is released from prison and is terrorizing the area. It soon spirals out of control and turns violent, forcing him to face his past.” IMDb
Ville Virtanen as Lasse
Antti Holma as Jaakko
Mikko Neuvonen as Erkki
Malin Buska as Cindy
Outi Mäenpää as Inkeri
Pernilla August as Britta
Jørgen Langhelle as Gunnar
Andreas af Enehielm as Jesse
Writer: Jussi Hiltunen
Director: Jussi Hiltunen
Composer: Kirka Sainio
Cinematographer: Tuomo Hutri
Editor: Kimmo Taavila
Occasionally some words are merged in the subtitles.
The immediate appeal of this film, for me, was that the lead is Ville Virtanen, who I had previously watched in shows such as Bordertown, Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders and The Truth Will Out and the film Knocking (previously reviewed here). The other aspect that appealed was the concept of the story which seemed promising.
So how far did Law of the Land fulfil its promise with a strong cast?
Firstly, the aspects that I did really like… The scenery in this film is very much a plus point, it is beautiful and raw and full of freezing, snowy, forested nature. Contrasting with this are the dwellings, bars etc. I loved the landscapes and settings.
The cinematography (the way the camera is used) is very good indeed, within what directorial choices were made.
This seemed to me to be a film that had great promise that remained unfulfilled. The pacing has huge issues and this, unfortunately, is down to directorial choices and, perhaps, editing. There is a need for more consistent dramatic tension. Occasionally tension would be created but then it just, disappointingly, petered out again. Had there been occasional releases of tension (a good thing) and a gradual increase of tension towards the denouement this could and would have been a far better film. Some films and TV series can create a pervasive and increasing sense of doom, but this does not do that.
There could have been more dynamism and emotion in, for example, the dance scene in a bar with a small child. I’m aware that Finns tend not to be the most wildly emotional bunch (as in making their emotions obvious on the surface) but this often seemed to fail to even imply them.
Some character development, such as our protagonist, was good whilst other characters remained 2-dimensional. I thought the acting was good throughout bearing in mind the material.
Plot holes, there are a few, such as not hearing a snowmobile engine at a convenient time for the story. And then there are stupid actions by characters that could, and should, know far better (using a car for cover in a shoot-out is a given, isn’t it?) I also found the very end, which was actually building up quite nicely in excitement and tension, to be a predictable anti-climax.
There are messages in this story, which is a plus point. One of the main ones is: to communicate with other people before it is too late.
Despite the messages, the stunning setting and strong players overall this film was another miss rather than a hit for me. It lacked enough drama and would have worked better, I think, had it committed more to being an action movie.
Trailer (no English subtitles):
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