Doom-laden, beautiful and utterly devastating, ‘Concrete Night’ is a slippery tale of adolescence which is sure to feature in many a cineaste’s end of year top 10.
Opening with a prolonged intense dream sequence reminiscent of Lars Von Trier, Finnish director Pirjo Honkasalo never seems to allow his characters to fully emerge into reality - utilising crisp black and white photography, surreal imagery and existential dialogue to imbue the whole film with a nightmarish quality.
A comparitively straightforward narrative involves fresh-faced teenager Simo (Johannes Brotherus) tasked with keeping an eye on his soon-to-be-jailed older brother Ilkaa (Jari Virman) while their feckless mother enjoys a night out.
The siblings soon escape their claustrophobic Helsinki flat, initially drinking together before circumstance separates and tragedy reunites.
It’s a remarkable cerntral performance by young newcomer Brotherus, who inhabits the role completely.
Simo is every inch a Nordic Ulysses, his transformative day turning initial innocence into something as murky as the flats that fill his concrete estate - egged on by his mesmeric brother’s misanthropic mutterings.
The final reel sees Joyce usurped by Dostoyevsky, as Simo faces the ultimate punishment for his crimes.