Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Concrete Night (Betoniyö), which is based on Pirkko Saisio’s 1981 novel Betoniyö, echoes the menacing presence of what lies beyond the door, an element so often found in the work of absurdists like Brecht and Pinter. A single flat with only one entrance terrifies its inhabitants. Whenever someone knocks it causes a vacuum of paranoia.
Simo (Johannes Brotherus) is drowning in an aesthetic monochrome nightmare, with no exit. This beautiful dream sequence introduces the audience to its protagonist, Simo, while foreshadowing the inevitable. He looks up to his older brother, Ilkka (Jari Virman), who faces jail time for unknown crimes. Lost in his existential thoughts, convinced that humans are the true evil, he fills the impressionable Simo’s head with his theories of the apocalypse and inedibility of everything.
Ilkka dresses his brother up for a night out, as this could be their last together. Running into trouble with former drug dealers, he is shoved into a car, leaving Simo to wonder the streets alone. Things start to spiral violently and Simo fleas in a panic state of disillusionment.
Honkasalon’s cinematography skills are evident in her directional approach. If the film was stripped of dialogue it would be equally powerful. 14-year-old Simo represents innocence and sweet appearance is in direct contrast with everyone and everything around him.
Although it is a black and white film, it isn’t overly noir, but definitely a perfect art house selection. The surreal atmosphere created by meticulously chosen shots, with its lack of visual colour, is what makes this film such a pleasure to watch. No one part stands out above the rest which means that the film in its entirety is good. It does not distract the viewer to applaud on just one aspect like performance or editing, but the film as a whole.
Awarded 6 Jussi Awards, which includes Best Film and Best Director of 2013. Concrete Night is among the 12 films screening at the European Film Festival at Cinema Nouveau, nationwide from 8-17 May.