The Woodcutter Story (Metsurin Tarina)
Pepe (Jarkko Lahti) is an eternally optimistic man. The titular woodcutter loses his job when the local mill shuts down. But while the news sparks anger or depression in his colleagues, he calmly states that the powers that be will have had a reason for the closure. Within a short period of time, Pepe’s mother passes away, his wife leaves him and his house burns down, but the man’s outlook on life remains serene.
The Woodcutter Story is writer and director Mikko Myllylahti’s first feature, and was developed at the Torino Film Lab. At the 61st Semaine de la Critique, where the film screened in Cannes, it won the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution.
The cinematography largely plays with symmetry: the characters are often framed in the image centre and give a picturesque feeling to the fairytale-like plot. Most striking are the outdoor shots that involve not only Finland’s naturally breathtaking landscape, but also stunning light reflections on the expansive white snow.
Jarkko Lahti, who previously collaborated with Myllylahti on his 2018 short film, Tiger, presents his protagonist as a benevolent projection surface for audiences to read into and seek answers from. Has this man figured out something about life that we are all missing?
The Finnish production can’t be assigned to a specific genre: there is drama in Pepe’s life, even if he doesn’t see it that way. There are elements of fantasy, thriller, even horror in one particular instance where emotions get the better of a different character. The feature teeters between magical realism and absurdism with a very particular style, valuing the peculiar.
If Twin Peaks’s Scandinavian guests got a spin-off film in their own neck of the woods – well, in Finland rather than Norway or Iceland – this is very likely what the result would look like.
The Woodcutter Story (Metsurin Tarina) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip The Woodcutter Story (Metsurin Tarina) here: