Concrete Night (betoniyö)

Directed by Pirjo Honkasalo
  • Denmark/Finland/Sweden
  • 96 minutes
  • 2013

Stunning to look at and chilling at its core, Concrete Night is a tale of innocence lost. Made by a Finnish director, Pirjo Honkasalo, at work since the sixties, it could easily be mistaken for the debut of an edgy but emotionally restrained new talent.

Johannes Brotherus plays Simo, a fresh-faced teen whose eyes haven’t yet been hardened by the tough environment he inhabits. Raised by a single and unreliable-seeming mother (Anneli Karppinen), he and brother Ilkka (Jari Virman) are hiding out in their Helsinki flat. Ilkka’s going to jail on Monday and mum wants Simo to keep him company while she goes out on the town. Over the course of the evening the two go out for drinks, split up, and have encounters with half-strangers that go badly for both young men.

Peter Flinckenberg’s black-and-white photography is as dramatic as the script is restrained, full of creeping shadows and cracked glass. When the story finally enters daylight hours, after a night of impulsive bad decisions, Helsinki is so thick with hazy steam it might as well be underwater.

John DeFore
The Hollywood Reporter

Johannes Brotherus, Jari Virman, Juhan Ulfsak