The Cuckoo review

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A Russian, a Finn and a Laplander walk into a hut... Not the beginning of a tortuous gag, but the unlikely premise for a gentle fable set in northern Europe at the end of World War Two.

Chained to a rock by his own men, Finnish sharpshooter Veiko (Ville Haapasalo) - the "cuckoo" of the title - - eventually frees himself and seeks refuge with Lapp reindeer farmer Anni (Anni-Christina Juuso). But her lakeside retreat is also a sanctuary for wounded Soviet soldier Ivan (Viktor Bychkov), who takes an instant dislike to this "fascist" interloper.

The twist? No one speaks the same language, creating a mini Tower of Babel populated by three strangers at cross-purposes. A slight yarn, then, but one bulging with memorable scenes: Veiko's ingenious escape from his Sisyphean plight, the two men bonding in a makeshift sauna and an interlude in the afterlife that suggests director Aleksandr Rogozhkin is a big fan of The Seventh Seal. A captivating curio.


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