Documentary Edge Fest no.3: Naked Finnish men…

Miesten vuoro (aka Steam Of Life)(Finland ’10)
Doco Fest at Newmarket Event, editor in attendance…

A lovely doco of men talking in saunas, but if you’re not in the mood for a whole lot of penis on display, bellies and 70’s bush, then shy away! Completely devoid of women, these fellas weep about birth, death, custody battles, manslaughter, abuse and of all sorts of heavy shit. There’re a few lighter moments – Jusso the orphan smashing the table is hilarious, the pack of santas complaining about the lack of respect their roles earn – but mostly we watch these men get all choked up. Seniors, soldiers, workers, homeless dudes, it appears that ALL men in Finland frequent the sauna…
I was a little confused about how it was made; some of it simply looked so well set up?!? Apart from possibly-incorrect credits (“Characters”, “Script”, etc…), the amount of camera angles in these confined spaces, the time & planning it would’ve taken to get the equipment set up in front of these dudes in all that steam…seemed a little too perfect? I felt that this took away from the profundity of it all unfortunately, as any point that it may’ve been trying to make about openness (due to lack of clothes and females) was deflated by that gushing having a staged feel to it.
Luckily, it was pretty cool besides. Snow-covered landscapes, pastures, underwater photography…it was given a very cinematic feel. The mostly-grim chapters were broken up with shots of amusing saunas housed inside a car or a harvester, one that looked like a tipi and even one inside a phone booth! Usually with a beer in hand, these men slap themselves with bunches of leafy branches (for circulation?), wash their kids, reminisce and enjoy both the company and solitude. We get to revisit each of the stories before the credits as one by one, everybody involved stares into the camera while belting out a chorus of Oravan laulu (The Squirrel). Lovely.


About nigemo

Drawing, movies. That's it, that's all there is to know.
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