'Girl Picture' - Gen Z romance in Finland

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Tuesday September 13, 2022
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Cast members Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino and Aamu Milonoff in "Girl Picture"
Cast members Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino and Aamu Milonoff in "Girl Picture"

Directed by Alli Haapasalo, written by Ilona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen, "Girl Picture" is truly a fun film to watch. Although it's not your typical lesbian film (it features as much straight dating and romance as gay), "Girl Picture" (Finnish title "Tytöt tytöt tytöt," — 'Girls, Girls, Girls") takes the prize for authenticity. It also won a prestigious Audience Award at Sundance.

It's easy to see why solid, well-made Finnish films, however, have traditionally been overlooked.

The priority in Haapasalo's filmmaking is never to grab the spotlight. The director's approach seems to be to simply get out of the way and let the kids speak for themselves as they deal with coming-of-age issues.

Best friends Ronkko and Mimmi enjoy working together at the smoothie shop. Ronkko is full of a rare natural charm in the vein of comedians like Cantinflas. Expatiating endless verbosity on-camera with guileless candor, she expresses concern that she so far has not found sex enjoyable as people are supposed to. Tending toward being the nervous type, like Cantinflas, she connects with a handsome shy customer at the smoothie bar who also tends toward nervousness. After a few false starts and an embarrassing accident during foreplay, it seems they've at least found a friend in each other.

Throughout the film there are lots of fun scenes of the two main characters, Mimmi and Emma, enjoying what seems like the perfect romance. No doubt, ice-skating fans will love the rapturous performances given by the very talented Linnea Leino who plays Emma.

Although highly compatible, volatile Mimmi can't help sabotaging the relationship. The film delves into some of the hard-to-pin-point problems she has with her neglectful mother beneath the smiles and niceties that "now everything's ok" with her family. It's painful to watch the mother forget that she had invited Mimmi to her little brother's birthday party. In a beautifully executed scene, the family had left for the celebration without her.

In another scene, family is the source of serious emotional pain when we learn that Ronkko's family has stopped talking with her since she's been labeled with "mental illness" that they no doubt themselves caused her. The Nordic family is not overly sentimental, to say the least.

a scene from 'Girl Picture'  

The soundtrack is striking and augments the action on-screen, complementing the cozy in-door action over several wintry nights perfectly, while reminding us that we're not in the US. American audiences will scarcely recognize any of the music, or their particular brand of pop music, with the one exception of a sweet, simple contemporary interpretation of the 1935 song "I'm in the Mood for Love," always appropriate lyrics in the world the film inhabits.

It's particularly striking that Gen Z in the film is so nonchalant about LGBTQ relations. They seem to really get that love is love, and to be human is to be capable of the full gamut of human experiences. For some people, though, gay relationships seem to be important (as for Mimmi). Perhaps they are working out childhood wounding from a parent. While for others it's truly just another flavor on the menu (as it seems to be the case for Emma). No judgment.

There's also no shortage of subplots to keep things interesting. Romance is seemingly everywhere. The young men in the film have the same fun approach as the girls. From watching the film, I'd say it's a much healthier society than we have here. The kids in many ways seem more mature than their parents, actually. Of course, there is plenty of normal teen angst, anger, and an occasional outburst, but they know the importance of real friendship and acceptance in a way that perhaps more alienated and repressed previous generations cannot know. And it is that realness that stays with the audience.


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