They Have Escaped
Directed by Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää
Two troubled youths break out of their halfway house and make their way to one's home.
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★★★★½ review by Kurdt on Letterboxd
Kurdt Attempts To March Around The World 2015 Challenge #16 - Finland
What a great film from Finland, centered around two teenage outcasts who run away from a halfway house and embark on a strange journey. It's a mix between a road movie, indie drama and surrealism.
The cinematography is astounding, without a doubt the main highlight of the film. Every shot is beautiful, the colour palette on display is mesmerizing and adds to the hyper-realism of the narrative where you're not quite sure if everything is as it seems. A lot of the film takes place within natural areas like forests which allows cinematographer Pietari Peltola to work his magic and deliver shot after shot of transcendent beauty. Each one could be hung in the wall of an art museum. Scenes jump between night and day, allowing the lighting to play a major part in the experience. Where colours are bright and spectacular during the day, it's the complete opposite during the night scenes where director J.-P. Valkeapää relies on silhouettes of the two leads to guide us, and sometimes even draping scenes with pitch black natural light. This was probably my only criticism of the film. While a few almost-pitch black scenes worked, and I appreciate the attempt to accentuate the fact that the characters in their predicament would barely be able to see, an important scene towards the end is an absolute chore to watch due to not being able to see what's going on. This was Aliens vs Predator: Requiem bad in the lighting department. But on the grand scale of things it wasn't a major problem, this is one of those films that you could watch on mute and still get the same enjoyment out of it.
The two leads, Joni and Raisa, share a common bond of being anti-social black sheep and their connection is truly heartfelt and genuine despite the film not being particularly grounded in reality. They both want to escape the monotony of life, and the rules society dictates. Raisa escapes from her foster home while Joni had already escaped from the army, a sign that obeying authority is not something either of them have in mind. They want to stay innocent, to stay young forever, but can they slip away from the clutches of society unnoticed? The film takes perhaps a surprising turn towards the finale that seemed a little out of tone at first, but I was proved wrong and it probably made the ending even better. I dig the message this one was selling. One of the best of the challenge so far.
★★★★ review by Moby_Octopad on Letterboxd
Αδάμ και Εύα + Αδελφοί Γκριμ + Cormac McCarthy + Bryan Fuller
★★★½ review by Andrew Buckle on Letterboxd
Finnish filmmaker Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää’s (The Visitor) second feature They Have Escaped is an uncompromising thriller about two outcast youngsters on the run from entrapping institutions. With a hypnotic soundscape, and the blend of vivid dream sequences, drug-induced hallucinations and a harsh, unforgiving reality, Valkeapää has created an unnerving cross-country road movie of interesting sensory experimentation and a story of troubled youths refusing to be caged up. His film screened at the 2014 Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals and understandably won the Finnish Oscars for Best Film, Director, Cinematography, Editing and Sound. It is screening at the upcoming Scandinavian Film Festival, presented by Palace Cinemas.
Continue reading at An Online Universe - www.anonlineuniverse.com/2015/07/they-have-escaped-2015-scandinavian-film-festival/#more-11387
★★★½ review by Nicola Altieri on Letterboxd
A really good surprise. A crazy, punk and healthy journey into teen angst escaping from reality and themselves. In a certain way the finnish version of the early Lukas Moodyson with something more. Free cinema speaking about free young people in search of life.
★★★★½ review by Otto Kylmälä on Letterboxd
Tämän vuoden Jussi-gaalassa pääpalkinnot kahminut He ovat paenneet on nimensä mukaisesti pakomatka. Se on Raisan (Roosa Söderholm) ja Jonin (Juho Kuosmasen Taulukauppiaat-elokuvasta tuttu Teppo Manner) yhteinen road trip irti nuortenlaitoksen edustamien rajoitusten ja ankeuden kahleista. Nuorten seikkailua siivittävät romanttiset fantasiat ja nuoruuden idealismi, jotka joutuvat kuitenkin rankalle törmäyskurssille maailman pahuuden kanssa.
Ohjaaja J-P Valkeapään debyyttielokuva Muukalainen (2008, Sodankylässä 2010) esitteli sekä suomalaiselle että kansainväliselle yleisölle tekijän, jolla on halussaan kaikki elokuvanteon osa-alueet. Ensielokuvan tarkovskimainen tyylittely on jätetty kyydistä pois, mutta elokuvateon hallinta on sitäkin vahvemmin läsnä. Harvoin tulee vastaan elokuvaa jossa jokaisen osaston vastaavan henkilön voisi kohottaa auteurin asemaan.
Myös Valkeapään musiikin käyttö ansaitsee eritysmaininnan. Visuaalista herkuttelua ja kiperää road movieta siivittävät muun muassa Dingon rytmit ja Gabriel Faurén sulosoinnut.
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