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Finnish film Compartment No. 6 a must watch at KIFF

22 April, 2022 17:46:27
Finnish film Compartment No. 6 a must watch at KIFF

Despite the bone-chilling cold of its location of Murmansk in Russia’s remote north-west, there’s a wonderful human warmth and humour in this offbeat romantic story of strangers on a train. Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen, whose 2016 film The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki gained popularity as a contemporary comedy about a real-life Finnish boxing champ in the 1960s, returns again with the heart-warming Compartment No. 6.

The film is adapted from a novel of the same name by Finnish artist and author Rosa Liksom. It revolves around a young Finnish student of Archaeology, Laura (played by Seidi Haarla) who is in Moscow in the early 1990s. She starts an impulsive affair with her professor, Irina (Dirana Drukarova), and under Irina’s tutelage, with her encouragement, and perhaps because this older woman does not care to have Laura hanging around much longer, Laura resolves to make the tough train journey up to Murmansk, to view the petroglyphs, mysterious rock drawings that are thousands of years old.


Sweet-natured, open-hearted Laura gets on this uncomfortable train in the freezing wintry cold, where she finds that she must share compartment number 6 with Vadim (Yuriy Borisov), a boorish, drunken young philistine on his way to get a job in a coal mine in Murmansk, openly abusive, misogynistic and dismissive about Laura’s plans. And her phone calls back to Moscow reveal that Irina isn’t exactly pining for her either.

Juho Kuosmanen

The romance that flowers between Vadim and Laura is parallel to the romance of a long train journey. Vadim’s scowling face and shaven bullet head make him look like a tough guy at first, but it isn’t long before the vulnerable boy deep within him emerges. Meanwhile, Laura welcomes another Finnish man to share their carriage - a self-admiringly sensitive type who insists on singing and playing his guitar. Vadim is fiercely sceptical and resentful of the other person, and in the end, it seems he is right.

Also in the end, when no one wants to help Laura find the petroglyphs that she has set her heart on and travelled so far to see, it is Vadim who steps in to help. 

Source: The Guardian, Cannes Review

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