Review: Little Wing

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Little Wing screens at Aperture 2 on Friday at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and April 2 at 10:30 a.m.

Considering what she has to deal with — a mother struggling to find her way professionally and figure out her romantic life, a father whom she barely knows and the girls at her dressage club who subject her to endless petty cruelties — the 12-year-old Varpu’s rebellions come across as acts of agency.

Played with subtly and emotional intelligence by Linnea Skog, Varpu’s rebellion of necessity seems to instigate the adults in her life to get their acts together. She’s far more competent and perceptive than her mother Siru (played by Paula Vesala), who comes across as endearingly clueless despite her best efforts as a single mother. And despite good intentions, her new boyfriend, Bo (played by Santtu Karvonen) also turns out to be pretty useless.

Varpu’s seven-hour journey from Helsinki to the small city of Oulu in northern Finland to find her father unleashes a series of crises, but also engenders some healing and in a roundabout way leads to the protagonist earning the respect of her fellow dressage riders. The scenes with her father Ilmari (played by Lauri Maijala) are some of the most riveting, with the girl falling for her father’s manic charm, while her mother’s sudden fear hints at the reasons why the relationship went awry in the first place.

This film, written and directed by Selma Vilhunen, seems to nudge viewers towards forgiveness at the collective failings of its characters, while offering a reassuring message that the kids will be all right.

— Jordan Green

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