By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Metalheads should unite and embark on a Heavy Trip. This Finnish film sees a local band from the small town of Taivalkoski wishing to make it in the big leagues, but to do so means dealing with a lot of challenges. They have been practising for 12 years! The resistance from the residents (being bullied as queers) and a rival musician makes up the plot, but to be respected is tougher.
To create a sound they can call their own gets amusingly fixed. I do not want to say what it is since it spoils a significant part of the film. Other obstacles include stage fright and a drummer who keels over. No, this isn’t Spinal Tap, but when they are playing in the garage one day, a festival promoter discovers them and invites them to play.
However, to get to Norway without money or a van, they need to make money quick. Part of the film sees their hijinks to earn their keep and also have their head held high. The moments showing their daily life is important as it fleshes out who these lads are.
This road trip comedy is not without its charm. Turo (Johannes Holopainen) is sodden with musician’s remorse. He tries to keep things together, but it seems Jynnky (Antti Heikkinen), Lotvonen (Samuli Jaskio) and Pasi (Max Ovaska) know better. Well, maybe. Pasi puts on makeup ala KISS but behaves more like the sad clown from many a French film. There’s no psycho circus here. Turo is especially very timid, especially when expressing his feelings to Miia (Minka Kuustonen). This subplot matters as it represents how Turo gains confidence.
The band is very earnest about their music. They know their stuff, and the jokes can get missed by those who do not know their metal. The humour lies in the meta references. While it’s difficult to know the scene, especially in Europe, I laughed more at the Blues Brother reference. Instead of I’m on a mission from God, it’s the adversary that gets referenced.
I enjoyed how this film defines the ‘Heavy Metal’ lifestyle. It has nothing to do with the costumes or the attitude, but rather with the situations that can befall many who take on that “look.” No, we are not talking about Motley Crue or anything as whacked behind the scenes. Say what you will about Black Sabbath, but it’s not simply about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. How this film defines the genre, Pasi said it best: “mythology, occultism, Satanism, [and] crappy fantasy literature.”
4½ Stars out of 5