Despite being part of a small patch of land (by Australian standards at least), the differences between Swedish and Finnish cultures are seemingly vast, many of which fall into stereotypes that are perhaps shared primarily by those living in the area themselves.
In Raspberry Boat Refugee the differences are distinctly felt by a Finnish man, Mikko (played with awkward joy and spirit by Jonas Karlsson) who is Sweden’s biggest fan-boy, growing up with rose tinted memories of a family holiday, adorning his childhood room with ABBA posters and wearing as much blue and yellow as he could find. When the opportunity presents itself to switch identities with a suicidal Swedish psychiatrist, Mikko takes his chance and assumes the role of ‘good Swedish father figure’.
The situation is pretty preposterous, yet allows the story to remain light and frothy. The cultural differences between Swedish and Finnish language, customs and stereotypes are explored with a humour that no doubt resonates more strongly with viewers who have experienced these contrasts first-hand.
Karlsson’s portrayal of Mikko is so endearing and filled with warmth and humour, it transcends any cultural or language barriers. As a Swedish born actor, he is convincingly the fish out of water with Finnish emphasis in the language and mannerisms.
Frida Hallgren as the stereotypically Swedish love interest (complete with blonde hair and cul-de-sac mansion) is suitably quirky and oblivious (and just crazy enough to believe Mikko’s story without a second thought). Josephine Bornebusch as Mikko’s “adopted sister” is stunning and a strong foil for Karlsson’s goofiness.
While the story is fairly predictable and the cinematography does little to showcase the contrasts visually between Sweden and Finland, the story has warmth and joy that gives it a unique soul and added insight into these two neighbouring cultures.
Reviewed by Hayley Horton
Rating out of 10: 7
- YouTube trailer: https://youtu.be/0n7_C80zI1E