DVD review of Finnish genre bending holiday film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Dir: Jalmari Helander - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Peeter Jakobi, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ilmari Järvenpää,
Reason to see: This film has festival sweetheart written all over it! Plus, a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
Every once in a while we get a film that pops up and warms the hearts of all the curmudgeons I know, and I get so curious to see the dark & delicious treat. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is exactly that kind of film, dark and delicious but it's still holiday film and although there are some gruesome moments I would also say it technically qualifies as a family film (i.e. everyone can enjoy it) although I would hesitate to sit down with the kids with it. That being said, as a kid I would have loved it probably just as much as I did watching it as an adult. The film actually follows a kid protagonist in Pietari Kontio (Onni Tommila), who is the son of Rauno Kontio (Jorma Tommila) a reindeer hunter. The film is set during the lead up until Christmas in the snowy lands of Korvatunturi mountains. A sweet setting for a dark film, because before long things don't seem to be going as planned with strange trap occurrences, machinery on the mountainside and mysterious disappearances which begs the question if something more, and possibly sinister, is going on.
There is a beautiful blending of Christmas tradition, spirit and stories with family and friend dynamics around the holiday season. There is a strong emotional thread seen through the trying father/son relationship of Pietari and Rauno, that reads every stronger with the holiday setting and the stoic male tough-as-nails demeanour. I also adored the fathers group of friends which are an awesome bunch of ruffians and a great combination of very practical as well as opportunistic that provided some nice comedy in the film. And the film is very funny, although the humour is dark and more-than-slightly bizarre, I loved every minute of it.
Even though Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale hit DVD in October this year, it's a sure-fire Christmas pick for people that are hard to buy for. It’s a unique and special combination that will impress everyone with its dark humour, new spin on a true Christmas theme and its strongly centred on family. Plus, the snowy setting is icing on an already delicious cake. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend checking it out. It's a welcome addition to my regular rotation of Christmas films and I think it will satisfy both holiday enthusiasts and Christmas curmudgeons. A perfect film.
The DVD releases is jammed packed with extras including: the two short prequels in which the Christmas Tale was Born: Rare Exports (2003) and Rare Exports, Inc 0 The Official Safety Instructions (2005); The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Bleed in the Snow - A Looks at the Concept Art, Animatics & Computer Effects Video Comparison, Behind-the-Scenes Production Stills and Original Theatrical Trailer from Finland
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is available on DVD as of October 25, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com
Shannon's Overall View:
I absolutely adored it - it's perfect
I'll watch it again, repeatedly
I highly & widely recommend
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© Shannon Ridler, 2011