Revenge served cold
by Annika Pham
01/04/2008 - Riding a wave of kudos at home,Petri Kotwica’s second feature Black Ice [trailer, film focus] landed in the Berlinale’s main competition programme last February, where international audiences were in turn taken aback by this twisted tale of love, betrayal and revenge.
From the onset, the psychological tension and sexually charged opening scene sets the pace for the 100-minute emotional rollercoaster that ensues, in which beautiful 40-year-old Saara takes revenge on her husband Leo’s younger mistress. As soon as she discovers that successful architect/lecturer Leo has been cheating on her, she decides to move out to put her plan into action.
Under a false identity, she befriends her rival Tuuli, who aside from her daily architecture lessons teaches martial arts at night. Saara becomes Tuuli’s confidante and a genuine affection starts to develop between the two women, until the drama escalates with an unexpected pregnancy that forces the three protagonists to face their true nature.
Winner of a Best Actress Jussi award for her role as Saara, the experienced Outi Mäenpää is remarkably convincing as the cheated wife and is both vulnerable and volcanic. On par with her is a newcomer to international screens, Ria Kataja, who displays a rich palette of emotions and strong physical presence. An equally crafted performance is offered by Martti Suosalo, a regular in Timo Koivusalo’s films.
Unlike Kotwica’s previous title Homesick, Black Ice is shot in cinemascope with floating movements. The romantic winter landscapes alternate with snapshots of city life in Helsinki. Sound effects are used to their maximum to emphasise the pathos.
Following its competition slot in Berlin, the film was sold to several territories by Bavaria Film International, including France (Surreal Film), Bulgaria (Multivision) and the Baltic states (Plan 2 Real). At home, it has garnered over 121,000 admissions.