Taavi is a wealthy and artistic young man who goes nowhere without his camcorder. On his 18th birthday, he inherits his deceased parents' mansion, and immediately throws a wild party. Of course, he tapes the entire drunken... more » spree. The next morning, Taavi shows the film to his best friends. They are inspired to form a club, with one simple agenda: At each meeting, members must bring a videotape of his latest sexual adventure. The tape can be shot openly or covertly, with a partner or a stranger. What starts as a simple game quickly degenerates into dangerous compulsions, as their girlfriends' refuse to be taped, and the boys turn to prostitutes and swingers to find new material. Soon, fun and games turn to the darker currents of coercion and abuse, and the young men are forced to confront their own mortality in the viewfinder.« less
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 09/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Young Gods (Hymypoika) shows what happens when four male high school students in urban Finland make a pact to accelerate their personal growth by secretly filming themselves having sex with women and then viewing each others' films. The four have a variety of outcomes and receive a variety of responses from the women involved.
The blond on the DVD cover, Jere (played by Reino Nordin), pushes the idea the hardest and gets goateed, romantic Markus (Jarkko Niemi), and awkward Sami (Ville Kivela) to go along. Well-off orphan Taavi (Jussi Nikkila) will compulsively film what he can get away with but does not want to be a performer.
The women swept up in this are Jere's girlfriend, Reeta (Jenni Banerjee), Markus's girlfriend, Mira (Mervi Takatalo), and Jere's sister, Jenni (Evi Suppala). Markus discovers an interest in a policewoman, Helena Paakkonen (Laura Malmivaara).
The students' plots are found out. Girlfriends change or drop boyfriends, there are rape attempts, there is a suicide, some women like being filmed, and one student discovers shocking films of his family's past. To move the action along, there are nude parties, public nude celebrations, standard sex scenes, an S&M anal sex scene, sex with a prostitute, nude conga-lines and more. Some even have homework. There is a lot going on.
Jere, Markus, Sami, and some extras provide full male nudity. The women do too, though they are more discretely positioned. Although none of the characters is gay, there are enough bodies and borderline events to keep a gay audience entertained.
The photography is remarkably good. The actors are convincing.
The extras are trailers, TV spot ad, music video, and English subtitles for the Finnish.
Some ideas are so bad that seeing is believing."
'I Am A Camera'
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Walk down any street in metropolitan areas and the omnipresence of the Big Brother camera is frightening: cell phones now capture all manner of images from friendly to horrific, cameras at stores' entries scan customers like a police state, police have license plate detecting cameras on their vehicles, strolling youngsters and tourists have the ubiquitous camcorders recording sights and other people's privacy - the list is endless. This strangely mesmerizing film 'HYMYPOIKA' (Young Gods) from Finland addresses these facts and builds a story around just how invasive and destructive the personal hand-held video camera has become. '1984'? Yes, in many ways it is.
Director Jukka-Pekka Siili has taken an idea from Jaajo Linnonmaa, passed it through screenwriter Jukka Vieno, and though Jarkko T. Laine is credited as the cinematographer, Siili records this story as though he were the one holding the intrusive camera. The technical aspects of the film - black and white into color into white noise screen into abrupt movement, odd angles, etc - are a strategically important aspect of the film's success.
Taavi (Jussi Nikkilä), the enigmatic 18-year-old lead, has just inherited his long-deceased wealthy parents home and estate. It is highschool graduation and Taavi's birthday, and after his fiends greet him au natural and are arrested (the policewoman Helena Pääkkönen - Laura Malmivaara - is attractive and forgiving), Taavi invites his friends to the mansion for a wild party. Taavi lives with a recording camera to his eye, a machine that allows his to keep interpersonal distance from everyone. Among his friends are Jere (Reino Nordin) who considers himself a woman's man, Markus (Jarkko Niemi) who appears the well-adjusted one, and chubby, pierced Sami (Ville Kivelä) whose sexuality is ambiguous. The party gets wild, guests sleep around, and Taavi records it all!
When Taavi's friends discover his deed, a pact is made: each of the four young men will videotape their own sexual encounter. This contest begins innocently enough for the boys, but when the girls photographed en flagrante discover the ploy, anger erupts and varying degrees of tragedy occur. As with many invasive games, this contest progresses to humiliation, rape, and worse, and finally leads to the truth about Taavi's secrets about his parents and his own personality disorder - all focused on the video camera as the source of evil.
The film is daring, entertaining, frightening, cruel and dissecting all at once. While many may dismiss this as just another example of foreign film exploitational technique, there is much more to the story than meets the first encounter. Siili has uncovered truths about our current preoccupation with privacy invasion and they are loudly criticized here. This unrated movie is not a film for the squeamish, but it is a significant statement that needed to be made. Grady Harp, October 05"
Much better than I expected
RaabH | USA | 09/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly not a comfortable film to watch. Despite the many sexual scenes there is little to titillate .. for example, one boy pursues an adventure in S&M that descends to levels he hasn't anticipated, while another sexual situation -- between a husband and wife and played back from an old videotape -- is almost too horrifying to watch. (I won't say more about the latter for fear of spoiling a key revelation about one of the characters.)
The main story follows a group of rich kids who create a kind of "film club" where membership requires you to secretly videotape your sexual exploits. Periodically the boys get together to watch everyone's work and award the best submission. As you might expect, things gradually spin out of control. One boy loses his girlfriend, another meets a woman with whom he wants much more than a sex-tape relationship, and another (the hapless and awkward one) struggles to achieve a conquest that will impress his friends. (Perhaps too predictably, his story becomes the most tragic of all.)
Director Siili paces everything beautifully and the film's editing deserves special mention .. it incorporates all the video footage in a manner that is virtuostic while managing not to be headache-inducing. This movie was much better than I expected and delivers a powerful message about the cost of pursuing one's own pleasure at the expense of real connection with others."
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 02/06/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
Looking at our world where there seems to be little guidance for youth to find spiritual context. "Young Gods" looks at confusion in the minds of four young Finns--all high school graduates. There is Taavi whose father has just died and left him his wealth. He looks at and moves through life at a distance and sees everything through the lens of his camcorder. Jere is dead emotionally even though he has a girlfriend with whom he finds no comfort. Sami is overweight, plain and lacks self-esteem and Markus has good intentions but is totally immature. The four take an oath to film their sexual experiences and this desire to film sex becomes the most important thing in their lives. All four boys seem to have bo strong father image so they are on their own to learn about sex and their encounters are loveless. The oath that they took eventually brings them to feel emptiness and they succumb to violence rather that feel love that they have within themselves. They want love but have no idea how to find it or to even look for it. What the film seems to tell us is that big brother is watching us all of the time, hence, the metaphor of Taavi's camera. Director Jukka-Pekka Slili shows us his story as if he is holding the camera himself and this gives us a voyeuristic aspect. This is quite a daring fim and it is also somewhat cruel. It shows us some truths about our preoccuptation with privacy invasion. It is based on a wonderful idea but is just does not work in realization. The boys act as complete and utter careless foolish teenagers and the film moves at a snail's pace. I was completely unprepared for what I saw. "
The two-joke review!
C. R. Swanson | Phoenix | 08/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I had two jokes in mind with this review. The rejected one was, "I like this movie better when it was called Auto Focus." The accepted one was, "This movie does for video tape what Jonestown did for Kool-Aid!"
Smart-[...] jokes aside, and that's where they should always be, I suppose, this movie was... interesting. It wasn't great. It was good, I guess. Not four-star good, but good. And certainly... interesting.
The plot centers around young Taavi, a nice-to-look at Finnish boy who has just inherited the house his family used to own. His parents died ten years before and he's been raised by his aunt since.
Taavi seems like your basic nice, if somewhat emo, sort of person. His friends seem to care about him. Hard to tell if he really cares about them, though. It gets especially hard, as it were, once he begins to get into the idea of taping his friends having sex.
These sexual activities start out pretty mundane, but pretty quickly end up in some interesting places, including an S&M threesome. Taavi's only remark about that is, "That was horrible to film", leaving one to speculate whether he means the content or the difficulty he had in getting any decent shots.
For the voyeurs among us, this is an interesting movie. On the one hand, there's acres of nubile flesh to oogle throughout the film (and, for the record, Markus and Jere both look quite alright when naked!). On the other hand, the movie makes some strong comments on the very idea of voyeurism.
The movie is not rated in the USA, and would clearly, and correctly, have been given an NC-17 had it been. This is NOT a film for minors.
This is not, as I said, a great film. It's ok. It passes an evening. I recommend it, but only just. It could have been great. Instead it's... acceptable."