This beautifully crafted piece of cinema by Saara Cantell takes us on a journey through three consecutive generations of women, all living in the same house and facing surprisingly similar problems. No matter if that woman is a teacher trying to survive in a war-torn rural Finland, a single mother surrounded by hippies, or a modern academic writer immigrating back to her roots, they all face aspects of loneliness, outsiderhood and yearning for someone to share their burden. Yet they're all also joined by their independence and leanings ahead of their time.
The film follows these stories in small snippets, building on the idea that they each in turn face similar problems. The modern day story is given the most screen time, which makes sense given the acting capabilities of Elin Petersdottir and Lauri Tanskanen as well as the fact that it's the most nuanced and interesting story. Personally I also like the wartime story with Irina Björklund as a teacher struggling both with the hardships of war as well as the prejudices of the locals against learned women. The middle story receives the least amount of screen time and is also the least interesting out of the three.
I also really like how the film looks. Costuming especially helps to create the mood of the time period and contains nice small touches meant to set the main characters apart from the rest. The house that serves as the focal point of all this is also lovely. In the modern time period it looks extremely old-fashioned and rustic, but is just right for the war period.
Tähtitaivas talon yllä, or Star Above in English, is one of the better Finnish films I've seen in years. It focuses on small human moments and the continuation of time regardless of all. Societies, customs and manners change, but our basic lives remain largely the same. This film shows the comfort in that thought.
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