The Cuckoo | Chicago Reader

The Cuckoo

This trilingual comedy, set in the wilds of Lapland in September 1944, is largely predicated on misunderstandings among three people: a Finnish sniper (Ville Haapasalo), who's dressed in a German uniform and chained to a rock for being a reluctant fighter but who eventually frees himself; a Russian captain (Viktor Bychkov), who's en route to a court-martial for alleged anti-Soviet remarks but is accidentally freed by a Russian bomb; and a local widow and reindeer herdsman (Anni-Kristiina Juuso), who takes them both in but can't understand either because she speaks only Sami, the native Lapp tongue. Evoking at times the final sequence of Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, this was written and directed by Russian filmmaker Alexander Rogozhkin but originated as a project by the male leads, both comedians. (It seems likely that they and the delightful Juuso helped with the dialogue, as Rogozhkin speaks only Russian.) The movie overextends a patch of folk mysticism toward the end and then adds a silly whimsical coda, but as a comedy of errors it's often hilarious. In Finnish, Russian, and Sami with subtitles. 104 min.

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