22 December 2001 | micke83fi
Growing up during wartime. Fun, fun and sorrow
"Pojat" ("lads or boys") is prehaps the director Mikko Niskanen at his very best, in spite of the fact that he has done some other good films too. It tells the story about five teenage-boys in the city of Oulu in northern Finland during the so called Continuation war (1941-1944, a continuation to the Winter war 39-40). The second world war was a very difficult time for Finland and the poverty is obvious. But that fact is not a problem for these boys; the war doesn't mean real war for them cause they're so young. It's more of a big adventure (compare with the British movie "Hope And Glory"). They admire the German alpine-troopers who travel through their city on the way to the front. The presence of the Germans offers interesting opportunities for these boys: they sale and trade things with the German soldiers. At the other hand they go to school and try to live a normal life during a war, just like the normal teenagers they are. The patriotism in Finland at that time is strong and the director catches that spirit very skillfully. In many scenes the viewer forgets that it's a movie. Pojat is not theater; it's a quite realistic description of life at the home-front during the war.
The acting is very convincing. The main-characters differ a bit from each other just like in Paavo Rintala's novel "Pojat". All the persons are individuals as in in real life. Vesa Matti Loiri makes an especially strong impression as Jake, a sensitive boy who's not as "rough" as the other boys, probably because of his situation at home. The music is mostly played with flute; it relives the movie's spirit.
Pojat is a very entertaining (at least for Finnish viewers) but also a tragic film. You don't forget that there's a war going on while watching it. Some scenes feel a bit melodramatic and exaggerated, but the overall impression is good. I recommend "Pojat" specially for Finnish viewers, but also for older people. Maybe for somebody who grew up during the war.