The title for Arto Lehkamo’s film “Young Love” suggests that it was intended as a coming-of-age romantic drama, but I suspect it is a case of wrong labelling…
Thirteen year old Jukka (Joonas Nordman) – a photography enthusiast, is struck by the looks of nineteen year old supermarket assistant Johanna (Saija Lentonen), and notices one night that she’s also a neighbour. He takes pictures of her in the nude and clumsily leaves prints in the school’s dark room, only for classmates to pass them around, and eventually to Johanna as well. Furious, she barges into Jukka’s flat to tell him off, but will agree to pose for him, so that he could promote her as the next supermodel. Jukka also strikes a relationship with his photography teacher Martti (Pekka Lukka) in order to learn more, but the fact that Martti is a homosexual sets rumour mills rolling, and Jukka will in due course realise that Johanna fancies someone older than him.
I’ll restrict my critique to a few words as you all know how much I hate making negative comments – this is a film that should have been scripted, directed, and edited differently. For a start, we don’t see anything remotely romantic between Jukka and Johanna. Instead of the ‘love’ angle, the direction and the screenplay should have focused on Jukka’s coming-of-age, learning the ways of the world – adapting or rejecting it. Some important elements (like Martti’s illness) are astonishingly skimmed-past, and despite there being enough ingredients for a good drama, the young protagonist comes through as someone not that curious about most things, largely due to the wayward direction and editing. Perhaps the same raw footage could yet be edited into something more purposeful, and even given a worthier title..!
The Nudity: Saija Lentonen
Two scenes in the film feature nudity from Saija Lentonen; when Johanna admires herself in front of the mirror, and later while posing for Jukka’s photographs.