Mushrooming

Mushrooming

**

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Aadu is a member of parliament – a well-off social conservative with a big old disapproving stick up his butt. He's off on a short weekend break and is currently under investigation after a questionable use of taxpayers money on a luxury trip to Peru. Accompanied by his wife, Viivi and a rock-star hitchhiker Zak. the couple (and bored, semi-sozzled companion) head into the woods hunting mushrooms – and through a contrived series of events, find themselves separated, hopelessly lost and under-prepared for surviving outside their pampered political and social comfort zones.

The movie flirts with various tones and styles – evoking Raimi-esque tension and camerawork – and broad violent farce as the trio come into contact with a strange hermit with a flair for the physical. In their hysteria, they wreck his home, pinch his food and generally treat him with remarkable brutality and an unwillingness to understand him or the situations.

Copy picture

It's not hard to see the clear metaphor between mushrooming and politics – to find mushrooms, they need to be in damp squalor and in dark places. We're quickly introduced to septic truck workers, shown contempt for the electorate and general ignorance and isolation of social problems. The people are fed shit and kept in the dark. The sledgehammer of subtlety has no effective satirical bite.

It's just not very funny. There are ways and means of writing and delivering jokes, but it's a mean-spirited and tonally aloof picture – through illogical leaps in character. A scene where the trio does some on-the-spot speech improvisation while dressed like cricket-playing Jedi Knights isn't bad, where we can easily grasp cheap, but effective manipulation. Western viewers can cluck their tongues and pretend that we're not so easily politically swayed.

Ultimately, political scandal and survivalism clash in a slight class-clash comedy with satirical elements that seem lost in translation. It was a hit in its native Estonia but I found its odd shifts in tone a turn-off. Perhaps viewers more versed in post-Soviet politics will find it to their taste. It's not mine.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2013
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An under-pressure politician finds a day spent mushroom picking with his wife goes south after they get lost in the woods.

Festivals:

EIFF 2013

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