Directed by Jussi Annilla
Finnish with English subtitles, 83 min.
This original, compelling and beautiful horror drama takes us back to 1595 to follow a group as they define the Russian/Swedish border after the 25-year war is over. The film is focused on Eerik, a hardened soldier with fifteen years of fighting behind him and a large number of kills (73) to his name, and his sensitive brother Knut, a scholar who is planning to take a professor post at the Geographical Institute at Stockholm after the task at hand is completed. After a tragic episode with a farmer and his young daughter they come to a strange village in the middle of the marsh. A village that according to records should not exist at all, a village built around a strange sauna, a village where time seems to stand still, a village with 73 inhabitants…
An introspective, intelligent and grim tale of crime, guilt and redemption, Sauna leaves much of the film up to interpretation. The legendary Finnish melancholy of the brothers Kaurismäki and Aleksi Mäkelä is delivered in a scarier and gloomier manner by director Jussi Annilla, but nevertheless, with great artistry and some outstandingly emotional acting. There is also an exceptionally powerful connection between landscape, images and states of mind in the film.