OPEN UP TO ME
2013, Simo Halinen, Drama
LENGTH: 95 min
FORMATS: DCP, Blu-Ray & DVD
LANGUAGE: Finnish w/English subtitles
DIRECTOR: Simo Halinen
CAST: Leea Klemola, Peter Franzén, ria Kataja, Marika Parkkomäki, Emmi Nivala, Alex Anton
CREW: PRODUCER: Liisa Penttilä; CO-PRODUCER: Madeleine Ekman; SCREENWRITER: Simo Halinen; CINEMATAGRAPHER: Henri Blomberg; EDITOR: Jussi Rautaniemi; MUSIC: Jarmo Saari
Maarit (Leea Klamola) has successfully managed to live what she considers a double life – a male body transformed into an attractive and intelligent woman. Maarit’s new life and body have come with a considerable price, as many transgendered individuals have discovered. An estranged wife and daughter, the feeling of being a stranger in a familiar but cold world, and a nagging conscience to confess her sexual identity to would-be employers and those who try to get too close are but a few of the burdens Maarit must bear. Most of all she longs to revive the relationship with her daughter Pinja (Emmi Nivala), but Pinja’s mother wants nothing to do with Maarit.
Her life take an unexpected turn the day her employer, a therapist, leaves town on an emergency and entrusts Maarit to secure the office after she is done cleaning it. Maarit can’t help but to slightly overstep her bounds once the therapist leaves and explore for a few minutes a taste of this intriguing profession. A man (Peter Franzén) in the midst of a marital crisis enters unexpectedly seeking solace from the absent therapist but finding only Maarit, whose compassionate nature compels her to try to help the man. The two quickly find that they share some common interests, especially soccer, a sport which was a significant part of Maarit’s past life.
Maarit’s natural sense of sexual curiosity leads her into a new realm of temptation and quickly learns that all is not what it seems with this man, who turns out to have deep inhibitions of his own and contends with elements of his professional and personal life in which Maarit becomes dangerously entwined. Past events clash with the present, and Maarit’s life becomes a turbulent whirlwind. Not on to live an existence of servitude to the expectations of a regimented society, she makes the bold decision to come to complete terms with the world around her and reconcile with those for whom she truly cares, and in doing so proves that true character is measured from the inside out. A gritty and emotional film, Open Up to Me is an exceptionally well-written and directed film that has made its North American premiere at the Pam Springs International Film Festival.
The Nordic Lights Film Festival
“Most people view themselves as being tolerant. It is only in close encounters with people different from us that our true colors shine through. In this way Simo Halinen’s Open Up to Me is an utterly human, fine-tuned test of tolerance. The main protagonist is a woman born in man’s body, Mauri, who has become Maarit after a sex reassignment surgery. Maarit, who has to battle with the societal pressures, is the real hero of the story with no evident baddies in it. Halinen, who both wrote and directed the film, shows great understanding towards human beings. Precise storytelling and excellent acting top off the intense whole.”
By James van Maanen
“By the film’s conclusion, a number of situations have changed and characters grown and/or come to terms with their inability to grow. Either way, they and we have learned something and in the process quite enjoyed the experience. (The movie’s last line is a delight: sharp, moving and very funny)”.
A Bucket of Corn
“… a beautiful piece of dramatic cinema… a touching, thought provoking exploration of the human being and the idea of sexuality and being who you really are.”
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