Walk down any street in metropolitan areas and the omnipresence of the Big Brother camera is frightening: cell phones now capture all manner of images from friendly to horrific, cameras at stores' entries scan customers like a police state, police have license plate detecting cameras on their vehicles, strolling youngsters and tourists have the ubiquitous camcorders recording sights and other people's privacy - the list is endless. This strangely mesmerizing film 'HYMYPOIKA' (Young Gods) from Finland addresses these facts and builds a story around just how invasive and destructive the personal hand-held video camera has become. '1984'? Yes, in many ways it is.
Director Jukka-Pekka Siili has taken an idea from Jaajo Linnonmaa, passed it through screenwriter Jukka Vieno, and though Jarkko T. Laine is credited as the cinematographer, Siili records this story as though he were the one holding the intrusive camera. The technical aspects of the film - black and white into color into white noise screen into abrupt movement, odd angles, etc - are a strategically important aspect of the film's success.
Taavi (Jussi Nikkilä), the enigmatic 18-year-old lead, has just inherited his long-deceased wealthy parents home and estate. It is highschool graduation and Taavi's birthday, and after his fiends greet him au natural and are arrested (the policewoman Helena Pääkkönen - Laura Malmivaara - is attractive and forgiving), Taavi invites his friends to the mansion for a wild party. Taavi lives with a recording camera to his eye, a machine that allows his to keep interpersonal distance from everyone. Among his friends are Jere (Reino Nordin) who considers himself a woman's man, Markus (Jarkko Niemi) who appears the well-adjusted one, and chubby, pierced Sami (Ville Kivelä) whose sexuality is ambiguous. The party gets wild, guests sleep around, and Taavi records it all!
When Taavi's friends discover his deed, a pact is made: each of the four young men will videotape their own sexual encounter. This contest begins innocently enough for the boys, but when the girls photographed en flagrante discover the ploy, anger erupts and varying degrees of tragedy occur. As with many invasive games, this contest progresses to humiliation, rape, and worse, and finally leads to the truth about Taavi's secrets about his parents and his own personality disorder - all focused on the video camera as the source of evil.
The film is daring, entertaining, frightening, cruel and dissecting all at once. While many may dismiss this as just another example of foreign film exploitational technique, there is much more to the story than meets the first encounter. Siili has uncovered truths about our current preoccupation with privacy invasion and they are loudly criticized here. This unrated movie is not a film for the squeamish, but it is a significant statement that needed to be made. Grady Harp, October 05