In the film, you will see many naked Finnish men in saunas talking about their feelings (and drinking.)
The Film Fest guide says Finnish men are “notoriously tightlipped” about their feelings. (Uh, exactly where on earth do men openly talk about their feelings? Other than rehab that it is.)
The documentary opens with a naked man giving a massage to a naked woman.
The nudity is jarring at first but that feeling fades quickly as one naked man is replaced with five naked men, then two, then three, then one, then four, then one naked man and a bear.
The documentary is filmed primarily in saunas, which seem to be as common in Finland as liquor stores are in Edmonton.
The Finnish people seem to have an addiction to the sauna and like stoner frat boys will use any device to get their fix — there’s a scene in which a man has transformed a telephone booth into a sauna.
The sauna is an interesting place: Part bath, part confessional and part bar.
The men sit side by side and express their secret pains. One man talks about how he confronted his abusive stepfather, one man weeps about how he lost custody of his daughter and another expresses his frustration at the way Finnish people treat Santa Claus.
Their pain is real and palpable but they don’t wallow in it. After one man finishes a particularly upsetting story, the other man replies, kindly, “more steam?” as he splashes some water on the hot rocks.
The men’s confessions are compelling but as the film goes on, the filmmaker has to keep upping the ante — who will have the saddest story?
And so it becomes something of an exercise in emotional suffering-porn.
Still, this documentary is the most original and REVEALING thing I’ve seen in a long time.