Fantastic Fest Review: It’s Hard To Dislikemilla LOVEMILLA

Finland is weird!

It’s a different world over there in Finland, a land filled with zombies, time travelers, giant pandas, superheroes, aliens, and “Queer Fairies” who lend help if you ever need to break out in song. But even with all that extra stuff going on, love remains as weird, exciting, and mundane as ever.

That’s the central gist behind the charming and earnest Lovemilla. The film focuses on two everyday characters (Milla and Aimo) who just happen to be surrounded by all kinds of cool insanity. Yes, they live with Milla’s parents, who turn into zombies when they drink. Yes, Aimo addresses his insecurities by beefing himself up with disastrous cyborg enhancements. But this is all fun window-dressing. Take these elements away, you still have the same simple love story.

Simplicity doesn’t equal lack of quality, however. Milla and Aimo are just two youngsters trying to get along. They don’t have much money, but they have each other, and they have good friends as well. We learn to care enough for poor Milla and Aimo to have a real emotional stake in whether or not their struggling romance works out. The film doesn’t just rest on the supposed “Wow” factor a lot of filmmakers expect when they arbitrarily throw superheroes or aliens into a movie.

Furthermore, while focused on the relationship plights of its two main characters, Lovemilla manages to make the most from its support cast as well. These characters allow the film to continue into weird places without disrupting the reliability of its central plot. For instance, there’s a superhero who keeps getting upstaged by her more dashing male counterpart. There’s a couple of amateur detectives who are investigating the sudden and possibly nefarious spread of a poo-related illness (this leads to a stunning set piece involving massive discharges of diarrhea and vomit). The film colors all its edges with a steady stream of casual weirdness that always keeps things entertaining.

Lovemilla is based on a TV show in Finland aimed at teenagers. I can’t imagine what that’s even like, nor do I know what elements from it appear in this film. I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing anything, though it would be disappointing to learn that all this casual unexplained nonsense has real origins elsewhere.

This sort of thing isn’t easy for a film to pull off without looking too cute. Lovemilla makes it work. In the end, that’s all I really need to know.