Introducing his film at the Canberra International Film Festival, director Dome Karukoski talked about the Finnish cultural cringe, and my first thought was that this would relate well in Australia, where our national identity is also commonly defined by our deficits. Lapland Odyssey is a hilarious romp through a landscape that’s about as foreign to Australia as it is possible to get, but its characters and humour will be as familiar to audiences of Australian films as sunshine and barbecues.
Karukoski is suitably cynical of the saleability of a comedy that starts with five suicides, but this black opening sets the tone perfectly for the hapless Janne. In his all-night search for the digibox he needs to secure his marriage, Janne leads his two hapless friends into Finnish Lapland wilderness amongst blizzard conditions, Russian tourists, the Aurora Borealis, animatronic deer and not a few boobs.
If I have to watch a formula film, the road movie is always my favourite. The formula, at its best, lends itself to a strong and consistent plot arc, excellent characterisation and endless laughs. Lapland Odyssey has all these features and is a model of the genre.
It puts me in mind especially of what I think is one of Australia’s best comedies: Lucky Miles. Also a road movie, it is set in our most extreme landscape and finds humour in the imperfections of our national character. Lapland Odyssey does much the same in a Finnish context, and is also funny as hell!