Klaus Härö set to release One Last Deal in the autumn
by Marta Bałaga
- The Finnish director has started editing his new film, about an elderly art dealer desperate to find a real treasure before he retires, while trying to reconnect with his neglected family
One Last Deal [+see also:
film profile], previously known as Dark Christ, marks a return to home turf for Klaus Härö after the Golden Globe-nominated The Fencer [+see also:
interview: Ivo Felt
film profile], set in 1950s Estonia. Once again produced by Helsinki-based company Making Movies, run by Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg, the story of art dealer Olavi (Heikki Nousiainen), who comes across a painting he believes to be of the utmost importance, was shot in autumn 2017 in Helsinki and makes use of some of the city’s most famous spots.
“The city plays a very big part in the film,” admits the director. “When I did The Fencer, I didn’t know much about Estonia’s past or present. It turned out to be a real journey, but I don’t decide where I would like to shoot next. It’s all about the project you come across.”
This time, he didn’t have to look far. Härö discovered the story, written by The Fencer’s Anna Heinämaa, while still in pre-production with his previous movie. “In films, whenever somebody says something crucial, everything just goes silent. That’s how I felt when I first heard her describe it,” he says. “She is a formidable writer. In The Fencer, she took the tensions between the Soviet Union and Estonia and turned them into a unique take on David and Goliath. Here, she came up with a timeless story about wanting to prove oneself one more time before it’s time to leave, and decided to set it in the Helsinki art world. I loved that combination. We both share this love for classic, well-told narratives. The only difference is that she can actually write them.”
One Last Deal will also see the director reunite once again with actor Heikki Nousiainen, with whom he previously shot his acclaimed 2009 drama Letters to Father Jacob [+see also:
film profile]. The title role in that film earned him a Finnish Film Award, while Härö collected his own statuette. “Wherever we have gone with that film, be it Scandinavia or the United States, people were always so moved by his performance. He is 73 years old now, and all this experience just translates to the screen. I have worked so often with youngsters and kids, and that’s always a joy because things are happening for the very first time, and it’s spontaneous. But working with someone like Heikki is another kind of joy. I really believe this film might be his tour de force.”
Scheduled for a domestic release in the autumn, in One Last Deal, Härö will continue to explore some familiar themes. “I have always wanted to explore other people’s choices and try to understand why some of them turn out to be wise and others just bitter,” says the helmer. “Olavi wants this painting to be his crowning achievement. After years of dealing with mediocrity, he wants to do something meaningful for a change. This film touches upon what makes us regret things and what makes us feel satisfied with our lives,” he adds.
“Anna Heinämaa has drawn on stories such as Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, which always show someone who wants to challenge destiny one more time. He or she can’t just settle for what they have – there is this need to prove it was all worth it.” Just like in the case of, as he points out, a gambler still dreaming of making it big in Las Vegas or a thief planning a final heist just before he steps down. “It’s about trying to leave the stage with grace.”
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