Saara (Outi Mäenpää), a Helsinki gynecologist, whose self-assured exterior conceals a strong streak of jealousy, discovers that her husband Leo (Martti Suosalo) is having an affair with young Tuuli (Ria Kataja), one of his students, who also works at a martial-arts studio. Intrigued, Saara tries to find out who this girl is, and unwittingly ends up joining Tuuli's class of self-defence beginners. Little by little, Saara slips into Tuuli's life, gaining her trust and friendship. She even establishes a troubling intimacy, partly by accident, partly by design. She creates an elaborate scenario, giving herself a false name to mislead Tuuli and a false lover to dupe her husband. Saara, Tuuli, Leo, and even Leo's sister and her husband are all sucked into the maelstrom of jealousy and revenge.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Excellent performances and assured direction serve to keep the story engaging and dramatic in Petri Kotwica's third feature, which won five Finnish Jussi (film industry) awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Script - and Best Actress for Outi Mäenpää as Saara. In lesser hands, the story might have melted down into the sort of soap that feeds afternoon shows, but like Denmark's talented Susanne Bier, Kotwica keeps the reins firmly in hand to ensure her characters are real, the situations natural and credible and the story true to the human condition.
In Black Ice, the traditional husband-mistress scenario is expanded by the wife becoming a participant, not a mere victim. Outi Mäenpää's Saara finds herself in a position to engineer her way into her husband's affair and secretly tag along; she gives a tremendous performance, her jealousy and vulnerability always held in check by her motivation to find out about this young woman, Tuuli. Ria Kataja makes the mistress a fully rounded character, helped by the writing and direction; but her characterisation builds sympathy as she herself is betrayed by those around her.
Although it's essentially a three hander, Saara's sister and her husband (Villa Virtanen and Väinö Heiskanen) provide solid support, as do a handful of younger actors who have the onerous task of partying for their scenes.
Kotwica makes each revelation work, and creates intrigue as he unfolds the consequences of each action, leading to a web of calamities. We can draw moral conclusions, but Kotwica seems more interested in the intersection of intention and opportunity, and how events snowball in human hands, never as we expect them to. And so the film plays like a romantic thriller, with twists and turns to keep us involved.
Email this article
BLACK ICE (MA)
CAST: Outi Mäenpää, Ria Kataja, Martti Suosalo, Ville Virtanen, Sara Paavolainen, Netta Heikkilä, Väinö Heiskanen, Philipp Danne, Matti Laine
PRODUCER: Kaarle Aho
DIRECTOR: Petri Kotwica
SCRIPT: Petri Kotwica
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Harri Räty
EDITOR: Jukka Nykänen
MUSIC: Eicca Toppinen
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 15, 2009