Borrowing Matchsticks (1980) Poster

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The adventures of two men in Eastern Finland
Petey-1031 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
We are in Eastern Finland, in Liperi to be exact.Anna-Liisa Ihalainen asks her husband Antti to get some matches from the Ihalainen household.That trip takes a little longer than expected.Antti happens to run into his buddy, Jussi Vatanen, the widower with 15 cows.Antti goes to Hyvärinen household, but forgets to ask for those matches.Instead he asks their daughter, Anna-Kaisa, to be the wife for Jussi.Everything changes into more complicated when they meet Kaisa Karhutar in Joensuu.They also spend some time in the prison.And the people back home think they're dead, lying at the bottom of the lake.That's because Ville Huttunen heard them going to America but thinks they drowned with the steamship.But they're alive and well heading towards other adventures.Tulitikkuja lainaamassa (Russian name Za spichkami) from 1980 is a Finnish/Soviet collaboration.Leonid Gaidai is the Soviet director and Risto Orko the Finnish.With this movie Orko (1899-1901) returned to directing after 36 years of absence.This was also his last movie.Aleksandr Zatsepin is behind the great music.The movie is based on the novel by Algot Untola, written under the name Maiju Lassila.I read it last winter and enjoyed it very much.This is the second movie made about the book.The first one came in 1938.I can't recall seeing that one yet, but this is a very good version.I found the film as a VHS from the library.Evgeni Leonov is brilliant as Antti Ihalainen (dubbed by Martti Tschokkinen).Vyacheslav Nevinnyy as his buddy Jussi Vatanen is excellent.The dubbing for him was done by Aarno Sulkanen.Rita Polster is wonderful as Anna-Liisa Ihalainen.Ritva Valkama is great as Miina Sormunen.Galina Polskih is brilliant as Kaisa Karhutar (dubbed by Maija-Leena Soinne).Leo Lastumäki is hilarious as Mulon Partanen.Georgiy Vitsin does great job as the tailor Tahvo Kenonen.He was dubbed by Keikki Kinnunen.Kauko Helovirta is terrific as Constable Torvelainen.And so is Pekka Autiovuori as Turtiainen.Olavi Ahonen as the gossiping Ville Huttunen is most hilarious.Sergei Filippov plays Hyvärinen (dubbed by Severi Seppänen).Nina Grebeshkova (director Gaidai's wife) plays Mrs.Hyvärinen.She was dubbed by Eine Viljanen.Vera Ivleva is their daughter Anna-Kaisa (dubbed by Aune Kämäräinen).Martti Pennanen plays the blacksmith.Seela Sella is washerwoman.There's a lot of hilarious stuff in this movie.One is when those two get drunk and ride through the town and make a lot of damage.It's been done by the traditions of a silent movie, with everything moving in a fast speed.It's very funny when those men go wooing Kaisa Karhutar, whose husband, Makkonen has died some time ago.First Ihalainen and Vatanen find her house with the help of the pig they're trying to catch.Karhutar is the woman Vatanen has noticed earlier in his life.Then, when they leave to try to catch the horse, Partanen comes in to make her his wife.There would be a lot of work in his household.In the end Ihalainen is in the sauna with his beautiful wife.Sauna makes it all better.
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An unknown gem
irene_woodhead6 March 2014
Set in nineteenth-century Finland, this is situational comedy at its absolute best. A grumpy village wife sends her husband to borrow some matches from their next-lake neighbor. On his way, the poor fellow meets an old drinking buddy and gets completely sidetracked, forgetting all about the task at hand in order to help his friend marry the girl of his dreams (which he ultimately does in the end - never mind it's a totally different girl). A bitter-sweet confusion follows, resulting in a drunken brawl, a prison sentence, a ship sinking on its way to America, several weddings being arranged then called off, finally culminating in the hero's own "funeral". Side-splitting but done with great taste and style.

The film - and the novel of the same name it's based on - offer a rare sympathetic glimpse into the life of rural 19th-century Finland. The movie succeeds in conveying the novel's biggest strength: its characters, uneducated but amazing men and women whose simple hearts are bursting with love and hope. A rare gem worthy of being on the "Best ever" list.
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Unfunny and Agonising to Watch
Tonino10125 October 2015
A farcical comedy with a few very good actors which is supposed to be funny; the only thing, it is not. Made in Russia in 1980, it was announced as a Russian-Finnish co-production, although all the leads and supporting actors are Russian. Is it authentic? I visited both countries, and my opinion is, the Russian actors in this film don't look like Finns and don't behave like them. Such Russian stars as Leonov, Nevinnyy and Vitsin are wasted, and silliness creeps in from the very start and then builds up and clogs up everything. The director, Gayday, made quite a number of really witty situation comedies. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. Try 'Twelve Chairs' or 'Kidnapping, Caucasian Style', instead.
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