Selma Vilhunen’s debut feature film depicts twelve-year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog) as more emotionally mature than her mother, more capable of dealing with everyday life, and admirably steady in approaching life’s problems. Circumstances conspire to lead Varpu to decide to seek out the father who has been absent from her life since she was a baby. Her search has mixed and far-reaching results.
Varpu’s winning responses to the challenges and disappointments of her lot — subtle facial expressions revealing the processes she chooses to keep inside — reflect acting talent that undoubtably will make Linnea Skog a star. Offering her mother the help and comfort a mother more usually offers her children, and responding with emotional insight to some of life’s most difficult realities, Varpu effectively takes some responsibility for both her parents and in so doing helps them and herself achieve changes at home, at school, and with her horseriding companions that, though small, mark her success in navigating unpredictable obstacles.
The film’s pace is gentle, allowing the viewer to live Varpu’s days and nights with her, to feel the effort to maintain the everyday in her slightly chaotic home environment and at horse-riding school.
This small tale, shot with both vision and intimacy in several small settings in a small country, highlights a necessity to be the best we can be for our loved ones. Beautifully portrayed on the big screen, it’s a film you won’t regret seeing.