The Purge

The Purge


Reviewed by: Paul Logan

Not to be confused with the similarly titled US film The Purge, which is released in cinemas this week, this official Finnish official Oscar entry for 2013, based on the novel by Sofi Oksanen, reaches our shores on DVD.

Set during the early 1990s, this is a harrowing tale of love, jealousy and betrayal set in Estonia. The narrative alternates between two different interconnecting stories. A young prostitute Zara (Amanda Pilke) is on the run from the Russian mafia finds what she thinks is refruge with an elderly reclusive woman Aliide (Liisi Tandefelt) who lives in an isolated cabin in the woods. But Aliide distrusts her new visitor and locks her in the guest room, until she decides what to do with her.

Copy picture

Through a series of flashbacks, we discover that Zara has been abducted by sex traffickers who abuse her sexually and physically. In 1940s Estonia, a young Aliide (Laura Birn), helps hide her sister Ingel’s rebel husband Hans from Stalin's forces under the floorboards of their house, while also trying to hide having a crush him. But after being subjected to a horrific gang rape, she is forced to prove her loyalty by torturing her own young niece. After her ordeal, she is forced to marry a Communist Party official Martin, who preaches about Stalin.

A troubling and hard watch at times, Purge is a gruelling experience. The biggest problem is that the filmmakers focus more on the violence than the actual message of the overall story. Through the two hours, the audience is subjected to scenes of gang rape, sexual degradation and child torture. It feels as though the director is interested more in shock and awe, than exploring the emotional reprocussions of the characters' actions.

However, the acting is simply outstanding. Especially by the three leads who are extremely brave and convincing in their roles. Director Antti Jokinen - who has found fame for his music videos for the likes of Shania Twain and Celine Dion - has made the film visually stunning, with vivid colours and beautiful bright lighting, which takes away from the overall impact of the events.

Close in tone to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it makes that movie seem like a family film by comparison. Instead of being a historical drama, the film feels more like a horror. It is easy to see why this did not make the Oscar shortlist, it is overlong, too violent and bleak.

Reviewed on: 27 May 2013
Share this with others on...
The Purge packshot
An elderly woman gives shelter to a younger one but they are haunted by their past.
Amazon link

Director: Antti Jokinen

Writer: Marko Leino, Antti Jokinen, Sofi Oksanen

Starring: Liisi Tandefelt, Amanda Pilke, Laura Birn, Peter Franzén, Krista Kosonen, Tommi Korpela, Kristjan Sarv, Jarmo Mäkinen, Jaanika Arum, Tomi Salmela, Panu Vauhkonen, Taavi Eelmaa, Reino Nordin, Pia Piltz, Sonja Nüganen

Year: 2012

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Finland, Estonia


Search database: