TIFF 2018 Stupid Young Heart Review Featured

TIFF 2018: Stupid Young Heart Review

Contemporary World Cinema

Selma Vihunen’s Stupid Young Heart attempts to be a character study of a teenage couple expecting a child, but limited characterization and a static plot prevent the film from soaring.

Lenni (Jere Ristseppä) and Kiira (Rosa Honkonen) have had unprotected sex and have an infant on the way. Lenni is the one who continually asks Kiira to hang out, and Kiira eventually relents because she’s afraid to deal with her unexpected pregnancy alone. Both come from dysfunctional homes, and do not have ready templates for how to raise their child. Lenni’s small and skinny frame also causes him to be made fun of at school, and Lenni eventually falls in with a group of Neo-Nazis.

It’s here that this film sorely lacks the nuances of This is England’s exploration of finding companionship amongst a group of Neo-Nazis, and buying into their beliefs. In Stupid Young Heart, it’s mentioned that there are an influx of immigrants in Finland, and they’re taking jobs from citizens. Lenni would like to have a job, but he lacks the requisite skills to apply and hold down a job. I would have liked to see more connection between Lenni’s lack of employment status and his (taught) hatred of immigrants. It’s as if this film has decided that Lenni will be a Neo-Nazi wannabe and simply flicks a switch to make him one. The stakes are not high enough as the audience simply wonders if the switch cannot be flipped back.

I appreciated this film for broaching the topic of teen pregnancy, and the awkwardness it can bring about when discussing it with friends and family who may be less mature than hoped. I also appreciated the charisma exuded by Lenni’s Neo-Nazi mentor – that, at times, makes it easy to forget that racist rhetoric and violent actions drive this man. I also appreciated – however, absurdly, my brief belief that Lenni and Kiira could make it as a couple.

The bouts of drama and yelling at the end of the film indicate otherwise: the question then becomes, where do we go from there?


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