A touching comedy about the most northern – and third lousiest – rugby team in the world. This highly staged documentary tells a true story of love, under-achievement, dedication and friendship.
Welcome to the small town of Oulu, home to the 3rd worst rugby team in the Finnish league. The team is so bad that they only win a game if the other team fails to show up. Nevertheless, they keep practicing – spurred on by their increasingly desperate British coach, Roger.
While the team faces relegation, it is clear that the players are no more successful off the pitch than they are on it. In fact, the team’s failure as sportsmen is juxtaposed throughout with their lack of prowess in their private and professional lives. Roger is in the process of losing his job at Nokia, while the two central players also display a lack of proficiency: Mikka is struggling to support his wife and four children, while Matti is confused about his sexuality.
Ronkainen makes many observations about the stoic, and not so stoic, nature of manhood and of sportsmanship in contemporary society, but with a gentle humour that permeates throughout. Despite their failings, Matti, Mikka and the team are likeable lads, and what shines through is the strength of their friendship. The stifling nature of the domestic scenes is contrasted with their longing to revel in the space of the outdoor pitch and the safe haven of the locker room.
What is fictional and what is fact is very much subjective in this rather staged documentary, where fly-on-the-pitch observations are juxtaposed with what appear to be scripted conversations between the team, albeit with British Realism or American Mumblecore overtones. The editing of the film is well paced with a narrative rhythm that further suggests the artifice of the story, though what remains is a very real representation of friendship between men.
Mika Ronkainen (born 1970) is a Finnish film director from Oulu, Northern Finland. His work includes the prize-winning and acclaimed documentary Screaming Men (2003). Ronkainen also works as a producer, editor and composer, and is the co-founder of the Air Guitar World Championships.
2006 Sentenced: Buried Alive
2004 Our Summer
2003 Screaming Men
2001 Car Bonus
2000 Before the Flood: The Last Couple in Vuotos (short)
2000 4 Young Barents Dox (short)
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