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A Moment In The Reeds (Frameline)

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jun 11, 2018
'A Moment In The Reeds'
'A Moment In The Reeds'  

For his debut feature movie, "A Moment in the Reeds," London-based Finnish filmmaker Mikko Makela has returned home to tell his compelling tale of a romantic summer encounter between an unlikely pair that literally sizzles on the screen.

Leevi (Janne Puustinen) has been studying in Paris and comes back home, somewhat reluctantly, to help his estranged father (Mika Melender) renovate their old remote county cottage so they can sell it in order to help re-finance their ailing family business. The two men couldn't possibly be more different with their opposing views on practically every aspect of their lives. The father is a gruff conservative, and it is not just Leevi's sexuality that disturbs him but his son's insistence on taking up French citizenship to avoid being conscripted into the Finnish Army.

It soon becomes obvious that Leevi has no skills or inclination for the work at hand, so his father is forced to employ the services of a contractor to help with the rebuild. However, In the isolated community they live in, the pickings are few and far in between, and the only candidate is Tareq (Boodi Kabbani), a Syrian refugee who was once an architect. The father, however, is fit to explode and cannot refrain from a stream of racist comments.

Luckily, Tariq doesn't speak Finnish, so although he may pick up on the father's unfriendly welcome, he is unaware of the extent of his attitude.  However, though the workmanlike Tariq and studious Leevi appear to be totally opposite and no more than just merely polite to each other, the moment the father is called back to town they quickly discover they have a great deal in common.

What then flourishes during the father's subsequent absences is a deep relationship between the two young men, which, when its physical side manifests, becomes a very sensuous and loving experience. However, with the thought of the end of summer looming, and with Tariq wanting to reunite with his Syrian family while Leevi is intent on getting back to Paris and his studies, they both know that there are tough decisions that must be made very soon.

It is a remarkably mature debut from Makela who very competently tackles several issues at once: Leevi's sexuality, his father/son relationship, and also the growing unrest in the world about refugees and immigrants. The romance aspect is handled beautifully, thanks to not only the very real chemistry of the two lead actors (who give pitch-perfect performances) but also Makko' s direction, which avoids the pitfalls of indie gay moves that too often make the physical encounters seem like a poor soft core porn film.

The film has been in the works for some time, so the fact that one of the protagonists is a hunky foreign manual worker that falls for a local lad, just like in "God's Own Country," is pure coincidence, but one we feel sure that audiences will be happy if it does become a trend.

"A Moment In The Reeds" leaves you wondering what would happen if the story had ended differently, and maybe Makko will be tempted to make a sequel to his very entertaining tale. He is a fresh new voice in queer cinema, a genre which Finland suddenly seems to be adopting after last year's "Tom of Finland" and "Screwed." Long may he, and his fellow filmmakers continue.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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