Archive of films The River / Joki

2001, 106 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2002

One sleepy Saturday morning a group of teenagers in a small Finnish town decide to try out some bungee jumping. For the kids involved, this activity represents an act of bravado, but the film’s true focus is on other characters in this film mosaic who are forced to make much more important decisions requiring a higher degree of courage and resolve.


The complex structure of the film The River is anchored by two key events: the sound of a military plane breaking the sound barrier one early Saturday morning, and a group of kids bungee jumping in the town square. For the kids involved, this activity represents an act of bravado, but the film’s true focus is on other characters who must consider much more significant and courageous leaps of faith. The cast of characters in this film mosaic covers every conceivable age group and class. Two pre-teen punks spot a neighbourhood girl wandering into the river with her baby in her arms. Ilpo wants to leave work early because he’s feeling ill but seems reluctant to do so even though he can barely stand. Milja balances her deathly-ill husband’s wishes against the recommendations of his doctor. Prodigal son and failed musician Esa arrives to celebrate his father’s sixtieth birthday but the latter is nowhere to be seen. Santieri is taunted because he backs out of a bungee jump at the last minute – but he is actually wrestling with far more serious issues. Waitress Leena, who’s just met the love of her life, arrives late for work in a pizzeria, only to face her co-workers’ loneliness.

About the director

Jarmo Lampela (b. 1964, Finland) studied film and television direction at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki; also studied at the Theatre Academy. He has worked in radio and theatre and has made a number of shorts, documentaries and television series. Films include Pott (1994), The Freakin’ Beautiful World (1997) and Desperate Woman (1999). The remarkable film The River, which he made in 2001 with his own script, is characteristic chiefly for the highly precise characterisation of the individual protagonists, whereby the director allows the audience literally to get under their skin. At the same time, each character has his or her secrets and almost all of them surprise the viewer in some way.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Another View
Director: Jarmo Lampela
Screenplay: Jarmo Lampela
Dir. of Photography: Harri Räty
Music: Petri Nieminen
Editor: Kimmo Taavila
Producer: Riikka Poulsen
Production: Lasihelmi Filmi Oy
Cast: Sanna Hietala, Antti Ikkala, Jyri Ojansivu, Antti Mikkola, Jari Virman

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