Second visit to the Nodic Film Festival last night…
But before heading to the cinema, we made a stop at Nyks, a little bistro-pub on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Bleury streets.
A nice place to have a bite, though a little bit loud to my liking. I had a bowl of squash cream and a plating of duck rillettes with carot marmelade and maple syrup grainy mustard. Yum! With a pint of Carlsberg, it was the perfect start up for the evening!
Next, the movie… Tonight, we watched “Armi alive!”.
“Armi alive!” is the story of Armi Ratia, the founder of the world known textile and clothing company Marimekko.
I was a little bit doubtful before the screening. I wasn’t really in the mood for a fashion oriented biography, not being too interested in fashion in general… But wow oh wow, how happy am I that I didn’t back up on that one!
First, the story of that visionary woman, obviously suffering from bipolar disorder, is amazing. Starting from almost scratch, she built an empire thanks to, and despite her fiery mind. Her obsession for fashion and beauty leading her to all kinds of excesses, making her bigger than life.
We had the chance to have a Q&A with the lead actress, brilliant Minna Haapkylä. We learned that the director, Jörn Donner, who has been a close friend of late Armi Ratia, had spent a year with Minna, telling her everything he knew about the artist and business woman Ratia was.
Ater unsuccessful attemps to put up a theater piece, the movie is staged as some kind of documentary about actors preparing a live show about Armi’s life. Swaying between dialogues of the actors discussing their view of a woman who had died before they were even born, and staged scenes of Armi’s story, the pace of the story is so good that I got carried along and I it all felt like a realistic display of the Marimekko journey.
I am happy that Mr. Donner insisted to have Minna Haapkylä play the main role, even if she didn’t actually look like Armi. As the director mentions it in the movie “this is not an imitation”, more a very effective interpretation of the almost crazy will of a woman to bring the Finnish way of life to the rest of the world.
As Minna admitted during the Q&A, living the intensity of Armi for a month was totally overwhelming, making it one of the most difficult roles she played so far. Not difficult to imagine, since the character is always in a peak emotionally, either ecstatic, or borderline suicidal… And Minna delivers!
Was it just because I had no expectation? I doubt it… “Armi alive!” is a great movie, that reminded me a little of “Heart of lightness”, Norwegian movie from Jan Vardøen. Both films playing with the thin line between acting and reality… Very different from the usual blockbuster recipe, which made it all the more enjoying!