PRODUCING ADULTS (Lapsia Ja Aikuisia–Kuinka niitä tehdään?)

(director: Aleksi Salmenperä; screenwriter: Pekko Pesonen; cinematographer: Tuomo Hutri; editor: Kimmo Taavilia; music: Timo Hietala; cast: Minttu Mustakallio (Satu), Kari-Pekka Toivonen (Antero), Minna Haapkylä (Venla), Meri Nenonen (Antti), Tommi Eronen (Rönkkö), Pekka Strang (Miro), Dick Idman (Claes), Antti Raivio (Jarmo Heiskanen), Saara Pakkasvirta (Seija, Mother of Satu and Miro); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Petri Jokiranta/Tero Kaukomaa; Wolfe; 2004-Finland-Finnish with English subtitles)

“Gives the subject of exploring same sex romances the dignity and respect it deserves.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

According to newcomer Finnish director Aleksi Salmenperä, the English title refers to the film’s theme that “the success of a marriage is not in producing children, but in the children producing adults.” Salmenperä’s film came out of a film school project. It initially poses as a lightweight sitcom comedy-drama, but proves in the end that it has something important to say about the complexities of modern relationships in an ever-changing world. The film does a good job of sensitively portraying love between women, but I’m afraid the English translation loses a lot of the subtleties in the original Finnish version.

Self-absorbed speed skater Antero has a longtime relationship with fertility counselor Venla, who wants to cement the relationship with a child. But Antero resists, selfishly feeling a child will interfere with his carefully orchestrated career goals and chance to win a gold medal during the next Olympics in two years. Antero is so set in his ways, that he undergoes a vasectomy without telling Venla.

Things suddenly change for Venla after she gets locked in the clinic lab overnight with Satu, a woman doctor in the clinic, and discovers she might have a romantic interest in someone of the same sex. Never able to verbalize things with her male mate, Venla moves closer together with the gentle Satu but without the romantic part. After hours at the clinic, Satu hopes to solve Venla’s marriage problem by artificial insemination. But the cloddish elderly bachelor director of the clinic, Claes, barges in and insists on impregnating the reluctant Venla. That turns out to be an awkward scene and after Venla rejects her pathetic boss in about the kindest way she could, she realizes that she might be in love with Satu.

Antero shows he cares about Venla, as in a driving rain storm he rushes to rescue her from sleeping with Satu. They attend a group marriage counseling therapy session, in hopes of reconnecting the dying relationship. Satu feels left out in the cold with Venla’s change of mind and takes up with her brother Miro’s slacker roommate Antti, even though she finds him tedious. He wants to marry her and is willing to get a day job as a plumber to become a responsible husband. Venla, meanwhile, is seemingly stuck in a relationship where the two cannot communicate with each other, as she’s still trying to figure out if she’s up for a lesbian relationship. It concludes with some surprises over the romantic entanglements.

Letting go of much of its comedy to illustrate how these kind of dramatic situations are now seriously confronting those in the contemporary scene, the film in a quiet way gives the subject of exploring same sex romances the dignity and respect it deserves. What the low-budget film lacked was an edge and crisp dialogue to make it more engrossing (granted some of the dialogue was most likely ruined in translation).

Producing Adults won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2004 Stockholm Film Festival.