Thursday, December 01, 2011

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

This is one of the strangest movies I've ever seen, certainly the strangest Christmas tale I've ever witnessed. Let me tell you, there is no resemblance to a Charlie Brown Christmas.

In the hinterlands of Finland, a young boy is convinced that Russians nearby over the border have dug up Santa Claus by excavating a mountain. Convinced by his books that this Santa Claus is a strange and evil creature, he is convinced of it when reindeer are slaughtered and children start disappearing.

While Rare Exports is strange going, it's not hard to understand at all. Part horror tale, part family Christmas story, it's not the kind of stuff you want to show your kids, particularly if they still believe in the Coca Cola Santa Claus.

Some caveats: The movie is almost completely in subtitles, as Finnish is the spoken language throughout. And there's a lot of male nudity regarding the....wait for it... elves. And it's particularly slow going in the first hour or so, but then the action speeds up towards the denouement. I almost gave up on the film a few times, but I thought the ending might be something I had never seen. I was certainly right about that.

The kid, Pietari, is played admirably by young Onni Tommila. He is so good at being an individual kid who never follows what his father wisely tells him that I would have tied him up a long time ago.

Thumb's up.


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