Thank you, Suomi Finland 100, for the tickets to watch my first Finnish film. Finland celebrates its 100th years’ independence on 6 December and this film festival is part of the celebration in Singapore. This film, released in August 2016, is set in August 1962, just before the home match which boxer Olli Maki is up against American world champion.
Olli Maki is set to compete in the lightweight category, and he has to get his weight to below 57kg. Two weeks to the match and he weighs 60+kg. He has just fallen in love, but his coach wants him to focus on the match instead of having ‘a chick hanging on him’, which does not look good to the public and to his sponsors.
Ollie wants to train in peace but is made to go through all the publicity promotion for the match, touted to be the biggest match in Finland, and the coach Elis, has spent all his money banking on Ollie to win. With such high expectation, Ollie loses confidence and his girl Raija whom he neglects.
He tries hard to lose weight, to the extent of almost fainting when fully clothed in the sauna and trying the bulimic method of induced self-vomit. We share his anxiety. How could he win if he is starving himself trying to lose weight?
The match on 17 August 1962 is meant to be the happiest day in his life. Would it be? Which kind of make me ponder about expectations and happiness.
This movie has all the Finnish ingredients – lakes, cigarettes, sauna and full male frontal nudity. I know because I’ve been to Finland and yes, I actually saw a naked Finnish man as he helpfully exited his sauna to point us to the right direction to the swimming pool, in all his naked glory, except the one who was self-conscious is the fully-clothed me. But I digress.