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A feature film. Duration 75 minutes. 2019.

Written and Directed by Kirsikka Saari, Elli Toivoniemi, Anna Paavilainen, Alli Haapasalo, Reetta Aalto, Jenni Toivoniemi, Miia Tervo
Produced by Elli Toivoniemi / Tuffi Films

The film is based on six short films from the One-Off Incident project that portrays women's everyday experiences of the exercise of power. - Force of Habit's homepage

The stories of the movie are based on the directors and scriptwriters' real lives and perceptions. A Force of Habit got its beginning already in 2016 (one year before worldwide MeToo campaign) when Elli Toivoniemi and Kirsikka Saari really got into listening to the conversations they heard around them; about the power of the male sex. They began to think whether we live in a world that is as equal and fair to all sexes as we have thought. Toivoniemi and Saari invited movie makers to discuss about this and from it the series of short films was produced and finally the film: Force of Habit. - Translated from Mediainfo

I saw the film Force of Habit in a press-screening on 25th of September. Beforehand I wondered how they could have managed to show all those short films together as a movie; perhaps one by one with combined credits? But the way they had mixed them up worked greatly after all!

This movie is clear, moving and dumbfounding. It surely is an extremely important piece of work. It makes you think, it makes you sad and angry, a little hopeful and then furious. It makes you see incidents and for sure real-life stories you yourself perhaps haven't even experienced or witnessed. The way the short movies are combined drives the full picture and directs our viewpoints just right so we can get big impacts for example how we first witness sexual assault in other parts until in another we hear a conversation from older ladies of how they never have gotten assaulted. Towards the end even the soundscapes blend into each other in a crippling way and the end of the whole film just makes you rethink your own viewpoints too: is it normal for us to fear and see women as victims?

In the Film Force of Habit we see following stories combined:

We follow Milja's (Pinja Sanaksenaho) bus trip to school that is disrupted by two older boys.

Emmi's (Suvi Blick) house party is ceased and one boy Jani (Joonas Snellman) would want to stay over.

In theatre rehearsals we see a tragic, sadly common story of how a female actor Emppu (Julia Lappalainen) ends up not being seen.

A company turns 25 and throws a party. An innocent hug from a man colleague gets the women's-- at first light and smiley-- conversation on MeToo rolling onto the point that Katja (Seidi Haarla) with teary eyes ends up telling what the boss has done year ago.

A court case of rape is taken on by a keen rookie Aleksi (Johannes Holopainen) and we witness how small bureaucratic mistakes end up hurting a lot and how cases like this just pile up in the office.

A couple Hilla (Krista Kosonen) and Kristian (Eero Ritala) are on a vacation. Hilla gets sexually assaulted in a crowded restaurant. Kristian is unable to react and the rest of the day goes by pondering what each of them could have done, especially Kristian. The feeling is very nasty and conflicting for both of them tell their point of view, as couples do in a confrontation.

Rehealsas at the theatre

Personally the most impact to me did the Anna Paavilainen's direction of Play Rape. It had so many good parts because the location is theatre where they rehearse a play. The play they rehearse tells about a rigorous man who goes a little mad and rapes his wife before intermission. Wife whom he calls a whore, as they do in those good-old somewhat historic plays that exude testosterone. The Beauty and the Beast -romance lives on and is idolized to this day. We witness how the male-actor asks a male-assistant to whom he accidentally bumps into if he is okay, instead of asking the same question from her partner on stage he rehearses a rape with. And then there is the passionate male director who lives a little too much in his fantasies to notice the woman actor Emppu's inconvenience. The director tells quite straightly that he aims that even the audience gets to dislike Emppu's character. The working atmosphere is toxic and even if someone asks if Emppu feels pressured, she doesn't feel safe about opening up about it. The sounds of the play and the reality mix up in a creeping, mind blowing way towards the end. And the ending of this story ends the whole film and is totally one of the best movie endings I've experienced, summing up the whole package on an emotional level.

Some notable actor mentions I'd like to do: Seidi Haarla was very authentic in her telling of her boss, how everything changed from smile to stutters. Johannes Holopainen played excellently the keen rookie and every gesture and expression was believable and interesting to watch.

I was very fond of the sound and color design in Emmi's scenes, how the pillows nicely made harmony with the actor's clothes and how the little ticks from the clock made the atmosphere intense.

All in all, the film is a must-see and a powerful piece of work. We need more movies like these. To sum it up with a catch phrase from the movie: "Come on, soon everyone's in tears"

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From This Author Rosanna Liuski