TIFF 2018 Review: Stupid Young Heart
Director Selma Vilhunen, whose 2016 film Little Wing also debuted at TIFF, returns to the festival this year with Stupid Young Heart, a timely and relevant story of a young couple expecting their first child.
When Kiira (Rosa Honkonen) gets pregnant and opts to keep the baby, she and her boyfriend Lenni (Jere Risteppä) envision a happy, if simple, family life ahead. Both Lenni and Kiira are 15 years old, firmly working class, and live at home with their single mothers, but are captured by the possibilities of their new life.
While Kiira is focused on preparing for their child, Lenni embarks down a dangerous path in search of guidance. He becomes increasingly involved with the local far-right anti-immigrant movement, which is forming something of a stronghold in the neighbourhood. Janne, a disgruntled right-winger and father figure to Lenni and his friends, sees Lenni in all of his vulnerability as a likely recruit.
As Lenni struggles to reconcile his allegiance to Janne with his better, smarter instincts, his relationship with Kiira deteriorates, threatening their future and his pending relationship with his child. Incredibly, it may be Lenni’s relationship with Abdi, a newcomer, that saves his new family and his soul.
Vilhunen remains exceptional at showcasing young people and examining the vulnerability and possibility of youth. The depiction of teen relationships, family dynamics, and classism, along with a sobering immigration backdrop, give what could have been a straightforward teen romance, surprising depth.