IFFR 2023 Big Screen Competition
Review: Four Little Adults
- Selma Vilhunen's new film is a funny and successful comedy about four adults grappling with the challenges of a polyamorous relationship
Shown in the Big Screen Competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and in the Nordic Competition at the Göteborg Film Festival, Selma Vilhunen's Four Little Adults [+see also:
interview: Selma Vilhunen
film profile] is a film about the romantic entanglements of four adults in Finland. One of them is parliamentarian Juulia (Alma Pöysti, who won the Best Actress award at Göteborg) who, instead of despairing at the news of her husband Matias' (Eero Milonoff, formerly starring in Ali Abbasi's Border [+see also:
interview: Ali Abbasi
film profile]) betrayal with Enni (Oona Airola), encourages an open relationship that will lead her into the arms of Miska (Pietu Wikström). Underlying many of the film's theories on love is a fictitious book, invented ad hoc as a narrative device: "More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory" by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux, which becomes a sort of bible for the four emotionally charged protagonists.
All shot in a classic style that allows itself few frills to tell a story that paradoxically tells of individuals striving to free themselves from certain cages (what could be more classic than monogamy?) that preclude full personal development, Four Little Adults is not the only recent film that delicately and ironically deals with the amorous movements of middle-aged individuals – one need only think of Emmanuel Mouret's latest works Love Affair(s) [+see also:
interview: Emmanuel Mouret
film profile] and especially the coeval Diary of a Fleeting Affair [+see also:
interview: Emmanuel Mouret
film profile]. But in this case, to complicate the picture, Selma Vilhunen deals with people with a strong responsibility to the community as Juulia is a parliamentarian of a fictitious party of equality and Matias is a Protestant pastor. This combination of factors creates highly comic situations and explores potential avenues for happiness in a society in constant flux in Finland.
For the director, polyamory is synonymous with collaboration, with a spiritual force that aims to sacrifice a part of individual happiness for the good of loved ones, be they one's own partners or those of others, a sort of proto-religion – less invasive and definitely funnier – that has the common welfare as its goal. The result is a brilliant comedy, at times dramatic, at times pathetic (as it should be when it comes to heartbreak) that overturns stereotypes and certainties and brings into play the sacredness of tradition. In spite of itself, this is a very political film in its rethinking and reinventing of the family unit, demonstrating that other ways of living (and thinking) are possible and that the concept of the traditional family is a boorish invention of the prevailing and bigoted right-wingers at all latitudes. However, we are far from any moralism. Selma Vilhunen portrays fragile, uncertain characters, always in the grip of strong emotions, who struggle to build a better existence without pretending to set an example, despite their public role. Four Little Adults is the child of a cinema that has the measure of things, that tackles today's problems with lightness and depth and that manages to maintain a certain brilliance without the desire to overdo it. Honest cinema, if cinema should be honest – this is no small feat.
Four Little Adults is produced by Tuffi Films while LevelK handles international sales.
(Translated from Italian)
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