For his debut feature movie, London based Finnish filmmaker Mikko Makela has returned home to tell his compelling tale of a romantic summer encounter between an unlikely pair that literally sizzles on the screen.
Leevi (Janne Puustinen ) has been studying in Paris and comes back home to somewhat reluctantly help his estranged father (Mika Melender) renovate their old remote county cottage so they can sell it to help re-finance their ailing family business. The two men couldn’t possibly be more different with their opposing views on practically every aspect of their lives. The father is a gruff conservative, and it is not just Leevi’s sexuality that disturbs him but his son’s insistence on taking up French citizenship to avoid being conscripted into the Finnish Army that he totally hates.
It soon becomes obvious that Leevi has no skills or inclination for the work at hand and so his father is forced to employ the services of a contractor to help with the rebuild. However In the isolated community they live in, the pickings are few and far in between, and the only candidate is a Tareq (Boodi Kabbani) a Syrian refugee who was once an architect. The father however is fit to explode and cannot refrain from a stream of racist comments.
Luckily Tariq doesn’t speak Finnish so although he may pick up on the father’s unfriendly welcome, he is unaware of the extent of his attitude. However, though the workmanlike Tariq and geeky studious Leevi appear to be totally opposite and no more than just merely polite to each other, the moment the father is called back to town, they quickly discover they have a great deal in common.
What then flourishes in the father’s subsequent absences is a deep and profound relationship between the two young men, which when its physical side manifests becomes a very sensuous and loving experience. However, with the thought of the end of summer looming and with Tariq wanting to reunite with his Syrian family, and Leevi intent on getting back to Paris and his studies, they both know that there are tough decisions that must be made very soon.
It is a remarkably mature debut from Makela who very competently tackles several issues at once, from Leevi’s sexuality, his father/son relationship and also the growing unrest in the world about refugees and immigrants. The romance aspect is handled beautifully thanks to not only the very real chemistry of the two lead actors pitch-perfect performances but also Makela’ s direction that avoids the usual pitfalls of indie gay moves that always make the physical encounters seem like a poor soft core porn films.
The film has been in the works for some time so the fact that one of the protagonists is a hunky foreign manual worker that falls for a local lad, just like in God’s Own Country, is pure coincidence, but one we feel sure that audiences will be happy if it does become a trend.
A Moment In The Reeds leaves you wondering what would happen if the story had ended differently, and maybe Makela will be tempted to make a sequel to his very entertaining tale. He is a fresh new voice in queer cinema a genre which Finland suddenly seems to be adopting after last years Tom of Finland and Screwed. Long may he, and his fellow filmmakers continue.