Dog Nail Clipper

Director: Markku Polonen

Finland. 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 105 min.

Writer-director Markku Polonen’s moving adaptation of Veikko Huovinen’s novel, Dog Nail Clipper is set in rural Finland in the early 1950s and features an outstanding lead performance from Peter Franzen, who plays Mertsi, a simple man suffering the effects of a brain injury he received during World War II. A friend’s off-hand joke about a neglected old dog that needs its nails clipped sends the idealistic Mertsi on a quest to find and help the animal. His journey takes him across a cold, wintry landscape, where offers of shelter and acts of kindness reveal the basic warmth and goodness of human beings. Forget the title, which gives the false impression of a cutesy animal flick. This is a lyrical rumination on the resilience of the human spirit, and a film of outstanding visual beauty. It deservedly cleaned up at the Finnish equivalent of the Oscars.

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