Eye For Film >> Movies >> Heavy Trip (2018) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
It's a popular joke outside Finland to say that wherever you go in that country, sooner or later you'll run into a black metal band - like the man who recently met one in the woods whilst proposing to his girlfriend - and it's true that Finland has more heavy metal bands per capita than any other country in the world, but being in a such a band offers no guarantees of protection against loneliness. In the small northern town where Impaled Rektum have been practising for 12 years without ever quite getting up the courage to play in public, Turo (Johannes Holopainen) is routinely written off as a Satanist or a drug addict, or subjected to homophobic abuse because of his long hair. In fact, he has long had a crush on Miia (Minka Kuustonen), a former schoolmate who works in the local flower shop, but Miia has been targeted by smarmy local lothario Jouni (Ville Tiihonen), an established musician who warns him to stay away. Will he ever be able to win the woman of his dreams?
With this sweetness at its core, Heavy Trip is a deadpan comedy that pays affectionate tribute to the black metal scene whilst mocking its popular image. Things turn around from Turo and his band when they meet the man behind a major metal festival in Norway, and the suggestion that they might play there gets everybody in the town excited. everybody, that is, except for Jouni, and Miia's father, who happens to be the local police chief and doesn't want his daughter getting messed up with a leather-clad loser. What follows is a cross-country journey that incorporates an asylum break-out, a heavily armed border skirmish, an encounter with Vikings, a lesson in how (not) to steal food from a wolverine, and more.
Making their first feature, writer/directors Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren owe something of a debt to The Blues Brothers, and there's ultimately not much originality in the plot, but Heavy Trip sings with a voice of its own. The characters come through clearly and the bond between them feels real. Occasional lapses into sentiment are balanced by the absurdity of the situations in which the band find themselves, the script's dry wit and the energy of the music. Drawing on a variety of metal sub-genres, this should include something to entertain most of those who are likely to take an interest in the film in the first place.
Like much Finnish comedy, Heavy Trip also makes fun of other Finnish stereotypes (the band practice in the back of a reindeer slaughterhouse) along with Swedes and Norwegians. The incidental inclusion of a black character gives the finger to white supremacists who try to lay claim to black metal, whilst there's a neat send-up of the kind of popularly accepted lad culture that perpetuates racism without a thought. Although Miia gets little to do in her own right, Kuustonen invests her with a personality that shows us why she's looking for more than what small town life generally has to offer. Her chemistry with Holopainen means that we can see why she means so much to him - for more than just her looks.
A tale of loveable underdogs setting out on an adventure in pursuit of their hearts' desire, Heavy Trip has universal appeal, but you will need resilient eardrums to get you through - and if you know your metal well, the in-jokes may well have you in stitches within the first 20 minutes. It got a warm reception at this year's Fantasia festival and, like Impaled Rektum, will be making an impression wherever it goes.Reviewed on: 27 Jul 2018