By Jess Fenton
9th June 2019

When a 15-year-old couple in Finland find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, it becomes a tale of tough choices while still struggling with identity and relationships. Kiira (Rosa Honkonen) is a beautiful young girl who loves her dance group, her friends and having fun - they’re all an escape from her life in a tiny apartment with her mum and three much younger siblings. Lenni (Jere Ristseppä) is constantly picked on for being small and skinny, while also struggling with the lack of a male role models thanks to a father who bailed when his mum was pregnant. While still young and naïve, Kiira approaches her pregnancy one day at at a time, seeing it as an eventual escape from her mother and current home life. Meanwhile, Lenni finds a confidant in Janne (Ville Haapasalo), a local man who ushers Lenni into his martial arts class and group of friends. They turn out to be bitter right-wingers who have set their sights on the local Muslim population to vent their anger and racism.


Director Selma Vilhunen (‘Little Wing’) and screenwriter Kirsikka Saari never present a clear point of view, and nor is one revealed at the film’s conclusion. Is racism bad? Nature verses nurture? The boys are never indoctrinated, they only ever sit on the outskirts because they enjoy the company but are never a true member of the bandwagon. Any racist prose they spout is simply repeating what they hear with no real conviction behind their words. Is teen pregnancy good? Bad? Irresponsible? Fortunate? A lack of education? An inevitability due to home lives or socioeconomic background? Between this and the racism, no true consequences are met. As an audience member I need to feel something, even if it’s the opposite of what the story is trying to tell me. Am I happy for these kids? Disappointed? Do I worry? What protocols do they have in Finland for such a circumstance?

While the film highlights incredibly important and tough social issues they’re undercooked and therefore lack any real punch.

‘Stupid Young Heart’ isn’t even a slice-of-life film, because it follows two set characters whom we’re told have less than idillic childhoods, but we’re never privy to deep and meaningful conversations expressing how they feel about their situation or each other - just small glimpses that don’t pan out. While the film highlights incredibly important and tough social issues, they’re undercooked and therefore lack any real punch. The story also gets you slightly offside from the beginning when Kiira seeks peace and quiet in the arms of men, but in order to escape the chaos of life with children she... decides to have one herself? It’s established that she’s had at least one previous abortion, so she doesn’t have a fear or moral stance against the idea. So why doesn't she choose to have one now? Frustrating questions, with no answers.

While the events of ‘Stupid Young Heart’ are sad, concerning and engaging enough, it’s ultimately a futile journey.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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