Director – Alli Haapasalo – 2022 – Finland – Cert. 15 – 100m
Three teenage girls’ lives are turned upside down by sex, romance and fledgeling relationships – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 30th
Ice hockey class. In the spur of the moment, Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff) attacks another girl with her hockey stick. She and her best friend Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) talk about it after. They are like two misfits, spurned by everyone else, but happy in each other’s company.
Elsewhere, under the watchful eye of her coach Tarja (Sonya Lindfors), Emma (Linnea Leino) is doing ice skating practice but it’s all going horribly wrong. She seems to have forgotten how to do the Triple Lutz – the build up is fine, the spin into the air is fine, but she keeps coming a cropper on the landing, falling flat on the ice. She tries to calm herself with her meditation app. She talks about it in French with her mum.
Mimmi and Rönkkö are on their shift at the health food drink stand in the local shopping mall. Mimmi takes the mick (or the mimmi) out of customer Emma while Rönkkö plays it so cool with the boy that she fancies when he tries to chat her up at the counter it’s as if nothing happened. The two girls are inseparable and the dialogue between them at this job, as throughout, is nothing if not frank.
The pair later go to a party where Mimmi re-encounters Emma. Despite being nasty to her earlier, Mimmi is actually quite smitten and a budding (and very physical) romance blossoms. The pair are like chalk and cheese: Mimmi’s drifting through life type fascinated by Emma’s disciplined achiever, while Emma welcomes a break from her usual punishing routine.
By way of contrast, Rönkkö has decided that sex is all about the physical, and she sets about initiating a series of highly physical, sexual encounters with boys where that, not any sort of relationship or romantic attachment, is the end it itself. However, everything Rönkkö tries in this area seems to go horribly wrong, until (possible spoiler alert) at the end she starts hanging out with the boy from the mall, because she likes him and he likes her, without any intention of using him for physical sex with no emotional attachment. You can imagine the pair of them either becoming really strong friends, or embarking on a lasting relationship, with the narrative ending before it can slowly develop into one or the other. Which is a nice directorial touch.
The piece manages to deftly articulate the ups and downs of female friendships, intimacy and relationships with no holds barred, while at the same time largely avoiding anything visually explicit, which is quite an impressive trick to pull off. The three leads’ strong performances prove highly watchable and the running length feels just right at 100 minutes.
For reasons that remain opaque, the English language title has been changed from the perfectly respectable Girl Picture title to the equally sensible Girls Girls Girls which is closer to the original Finnish title. Either way, this is a picture you’ll want to see for three girls whose company is worth your while for the duration.
Girls Girls Girls is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, September 30th.