Children cause trouble even when they don't exist
That's the concept at the core of Producing Adults, Finland's entry for Best Foreign Film in 2004. Venla, a counselor at a fertility clinic, wants to have a child with her boyfriend Antero, who is obsessed with making it to the Olympics as a speedskater. His plan doesn't include children, and he's willing to go to great lengths to prevent them, but his secret efforts lead to strife between him and his girlfriend.
As a result of their troubles, Venla begins to spend time with a co-worker, a fertility doctor named Satu. She's helping Venla with her pregnancy issues, but their friendship becomes something more, and it's Antero who becomes the one concerned about the relationship. That Antero can hold Venla's deception against her, when he's done nothing but deceive her, shows just how selfish he is.
Venla isn't the innocent though, as Satu ends up emotionally bruised from Venla's confused exploration of an alternate sexuality. Just as Antero tries to make Venla the bad guy, Venla is cold and rude to Satu when she wants to be. There's a need to shift to Satu's world to tell her part of the story, but at the time it seems to make the film overly complicated. In the end, it probably introduces an artificial layer of conflict that wasn't necessary.
Director Aleksi Salmenperä has a few TV dramas under his belt, and the experience shows in the way this film illustrates the smaller dramas in life. As shot by Salmenperä, Producing Adults is a very intimate film, with many tight two-shots between characters. There are no sweeping landscapes or action set pieces, but the very wide aspect-ratio is used effectively to tell the story with well-composed shots.
When not filling tight two-shots, characters are left on their own in frames, giving them time to "think" or "obsess." It's a very effective way to show the characters' mindsets visually. That fits well with one of the more interesting choices he made in the film. At a therapy session Antero and Venla attend, there is no dialogue, forcing the actors to deliver the emotion physically. Thus, later, when the physicality is removed entirely, it has a larger impact on the emotion of the film. Unfortunately, the emotional impact precedes the final frame by a good margin, resulting in an anti-climactic climax.
The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, is a solid mix, but as the soundtrack to a dialogue-driven drama, it wouldn't blow anyone away. Dialogue is well-reproduced, while the music soundtrack doesn't interfere, supporting the film well.
Also included is a promo reel of Wolfe films, which is followed by a screen offering four additional trailers, and a sweepstakes entry screen.
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