Beauty and the Bastard (2005)

Pamela Tola, Samuel Vauramo, Joonas Saartamo, Eero Milonoff,
A woman dulled with praise, Nelli is well on her way to Med-School thanks to her parents, but dreams of a career as a singer.
  • 6.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Pekko Pesonen, Writer:
  • Dome Karukoski, Director:
  • Aleksi Bardy, Olli Haikka, Riina Hyytiä, Producer:
7 / 10

Old plot - New frame

Branded as the "best Finnish movie ever made" sounds like a bit of an overstatement by the pro critics. The film consists of a standard plot, which in this case has been placed in a frame surrounding a rap band. Couple meets - there are other love interests/attraction - cultural and social background of the characters - there is a misunderstanding - then another - yet another - at the same time dream of one or the other or both is fulfilled - both main characters are extremely good at what they do - there are "advisors" to both of the main characters - and then there love and happy ending.... How many such films have we seen!

The film's plot differs not from the above, but it differs to its advantage in the excellent and believable characters in the film. Wieving the film in a theatre full of 15 to 19 year olds was an eye opener for and old fart like myself. You could almost hear how the film clicked with them. Character building was so strong with the actors that I had to ask myself whether they really were a rap band, remembering that Eminem made a movie of himself as well.

Plot, as standard as it was, was handled professionally and with a strong touch. There we some hilarious scenes and a lot of simple but good anecdotes that permeated throughout the film. Director had also included some symbolic, willingly or unwillingly, like when Sune is helped in his drunken stupor by Kondis and Isukki. Did you too recall the painting "Wounded Angel" by Hugo Simberg! Removing the typical "Schlager" type music the film does not suffer one bit. Using rivalry between R/B and Rap benefits the film on a level as well.

All in all the film worked well. It can't get the top marks as there is nothing unique in it, it brings nothing new to us. 7 out of 10

8 / 10

Very refreshing newcomer in the Finnish movie industry.

I found this actually one of the first decent movies in Finland, it is a story about a crude rap music producer and a girl from a good rich family. By different reasons they end up working together, both trying to achieve what they need, and pull trough with their friends and family. Movie has lot of situation comic, it is catchy and interesting to follow from the beginning to the end. Some nice romance in it too, but without spoiling it with too much mushiness. Actors manage to perform quite naturally and lot of the movie feels like it could easily be from everyday life - with touch of naiveness though. It had one very obscure scene, and some unnecessary effects stuffed in out of the blue, but overall I was quite impressed.

6 / 10

Girl You Are a Star

Nelli (Pamela Tola), the daughter of a bourgeois family, dreams of an RnB singing career but is pressured by her family to apply for med school instead. One day she meets Sune (Samuli Vauramo), a reserved and idealistic hip hop DJ who refuses to sell his music out to a big record company even if it means he can't make a living by making music. Nelli asks Sune if he can help her to write some songs for her demo CD, and after an awkward beginning they start getting along and liking each other better. However, Nelli's rich family and her boyfriend Mikko (Jussi Nikkil?) aren't happy about her new career plans.

The movie was originally praised as one of the best Finnish films in a long time and received a bunch of nominations for the Jussi Awards, a.k.a. "the Finnish Oscars" – something that baffled me then and still does after a rewatch. The romantic plot is completely ordinary and clichéd, and the expected criticisms of the greedy music industry are hardly original either. Even though some of the songs on the soundtrack (composed by Jukka Immonen with lyrics by rappers like Elastinen and Asa, among others) are catchy, it's hard to hear how Sune's beats or Nelli's singing are 'underground' or particularly impressive in any way.

In spite of its obvious unoriginality, Tytt? sin? olet t?hti (literally "Girl You Are a Star" – I wonder who came up with the English name "Beauty and the Bastard") is not a terrible movie by any means. The lead actors Tola and Vauramo are convincing in their roles and Sune's foulmouthed rapper friends Kondis and Isukki (Joonas Saartamo and Eero Milonoff) are hilarious throughout. I also enjoyed the many real-life rapper cameos, even if most of them are very difficult to spot without knowing where to look. In the end, the film is probably best suited for younger viewers who haven't yet become jaded by the conventions of the romance genre. Fans of Finnish hip hop should also find it entertaining enough.

5 / 10

A Prime Example of Mediocre Movie-making

At the time of its release, 'Tytt? sin? olet t?hti' was considered an event in the small world of Finnish cinema. Dome Karukoski, the then-unknown young director was praised both for the movie's refreshing and contemporary look, and for the well-constructed and coherent storytelling. Some critics went even as far as dubbing it "the best Finnish movie ever made!" - which I personally consider a major overstatement. The movie does have its merits, but overall it's simply a harmless, yet a very commercial and a hopelessly mediocre film with nothing new to it, except a) it's a Finnish movie portraying the urban youth of contemporary Finland - a refreshing oddity in a field of cinema dominated by movies about the everyday problems of disillusioned thirty-somethings - and b) the use of r'n'b/hip hop music - a genre of music rarely seen or heard in Finnish cinema - on the soundtrack and as an essential part of the story.

The movie tells the story of young Nelli (Pamela Tola) - a classic, beautiful "good girl" from a wealthy family - who dreams of becoming an r'n'b singer, although her family expects her to pursue a career in law instead. To realize her dream, Nelli teams up with Sune (Samuli Vauramo) - a member of a semi-underground hip-hip group, who initially refuses both Nelli, whose taste of music he deems too commercial, and a record deal with a major music label to stay true to his artistic vision and street cred. Eventually, though, a fruitful professional, as well as a budding romantic, relationship occurs between Nelli and Sune, who spend their summer together composing and recording tracks for Nelli's demo album. But alas, love between the two could-be lovers seems impossible, because Nelli already has a serious boyfriend, and her parents are thrilled by neither Sune, nor the idea of Nelli abandoning a steady future for a potential career in music.

So basically, this is light romantic teen drama/comedy by numbers. The plot is just about as basic as it gets from its overused scenario all the way down to its predictable plot twists (= good girl meets a bad boy, obstacles stand in the way of their unexpected love, blah blah blah, and the viewer starts contemplating suicide), and there isn't even a proper gimmick to the film to jazz the clichés up a little bit - apart from the fact that the story takes place in Finland instead of the USA. Many of the much-hyped aspects of this movie - such as the refreshingly natural dialogue, the portrayal of the r'n'b/hip hop scene of Finland, and the coherence of the plot - only pass as something noteworthy when judged by the standards of commercial Finnish cinema (as it was by the time of the movie's premiere). Compared to other recent domestic hits, 'Tytt? sin? olet t?hti' was an original, high-quality film - which says much, much more about the quality of commercial Finnish cinema of the time than about the quality of the film itself. Taken out of the aforementioned context, it's just mediocre, clichéd and kind of boring as well.

Nevertheless, the movie is not completely without charm. Much of it owes to the modest charisma of the young stars Pamela Tola and Samuli Vauramo, who both bring delightful warmth to the simple characters they play, making their subtle on-screen romance likable enough to keep the viewer emotionally invested in it, despite its unoriginality. Also, even though the movie follows religiously the conventions of Hollywood cinema, the general feel of the film is genuine enough not to give you the impression that the movie is vaguely trying to imitate life as it's portrayed in commercial American movies - a common mistake a lot of commercial Finnish movies seem to make ('Saippuaprinssi', I'm looking at you!) - instead of vaguely trying to imitate life itself. But it's still just not enough - certainly not enough of an excuse for telling a story that has been told a thousand times before without bringing anything new and original to it.

'Tytt? sin? olet t?hti' is a harmless little film which is bound to entertain the casual (and bored) viewer, but I still don't think that it deserves half of the credit it was showered with when it was released. It's not exactly a crime against mankind, but it's tremendously commercial, unimaginative, and predictable - which is ironic, because the "bad guys" of this movie are the greedy pigs of the commercial record label who try to force all the originality out of Sune and Nelli to make them appeal to the masses. Personally, I did not feel like the makers of this movie were honestly trying to tell me a story, because the plot was so clichéd. It just mildly distracted me for a moment - and that's just not the highest function a movie should have.

4 / 10

Lousy work

The film depicts music industry as seen from the rap/r&b side through the co-operation of a "reluctant" bad-boy rapper and an "ambitious" uptown girl. Its clear precursor has been "8 Mile" by Curtis Hanson, but whereas that film had craziness, love, lust, violence etc., this one has maybe only weariness on the platter, judging from the views of Helsinki's East End railway backyards that we see.

The acting is juvenile. Since the main couple (very unlike Murphy/Eminem) are frozen in their roles, sidekicks who "assist" the main rapper score the few laughs and points for male bonding. They represent the kind of chauvinism that the protagonist should represent to be taken seriously as a rapper. He is no Flavor Flav, not even a chav. Since the Finnish way of life is the real backdrop, this love story could have been set to any other genre of pop; 80s synth, Eurodisco, heavy metal or folk, or in the public library, for that matter.

Some Finnish cultural personalities such as Anna-Leena H?rk?nen (author/actress/columnist) throw unimpressive minor side roles to the main story, but their impact could have been much bigger (sexy seduction etc.), unless they were in it just for the money.

The title of the film ('Girl, You're a *Star') comes from the eponymous 1997 recording by Finnish rock's former infant terrible, Kauko R?yhk?, which was a minor hit on the radio at the time.