Finnish film A Moment in the Reeds as originally released in 2017 and has now made its way to Montreal for cinephiles to watch as part of image+nation. The wait was worth it as the film is sensitive and yet sexy at the same time. It depicts a relationship between two men who feel cut off from people for different reasons coming together par hazard and connecting on deep level quickly.
Leevi (Janne Puustinen – Tom of Finland) is traveling from Paris where he is going to university back to his native Finland in order to help his father (Mika Melender – Virality) renovate a remote cabin so he can sell it. There is an uneasiness between the two men. His father knows that Leevi is gay, but does not seem like he is too happy about it. A buffer between the two men is Tareq (Boodi Kabbani – first film), a Syrian refugee who the father has hired to help him with the renovations.
When he gets a call from work, the father unexpectedly has to leave the two younger men. They spend the day working side by side. A bond develops between the two rather quickly. We learn that Tareq is an architect, but is having trouble finding work due to the fact that he does not speak Finnish. Plus he is here alone as his family is still back in Syria, so he is rather lonely.
The companionship turns into something more over a couple of beers. Companionship turns to something physical. Though looming in the background is that Leevi’s father will eventually return and also that the two men will have to return to their lives.
Ably portraying the awkwardness of their first time, the two young actors bring plenty of believability and humanity to their characters. You are taken in immediately by them and are invested in thier burgeoning relationship. Even the sex scenes are handled very well by the actors. Because they have sold the emotional connection between the two you totally buy the sex that follows. Those scenes are thouroughly infused with emotion as well as the physical connection. Though director and screenwriter Mikko Makela allows the relationship plenty of time to evolve from like to lust when the sexual stuff comes at you it feels all that much more impactful. The sex scenes are all sexy without being too much or gratuitous.
Hot button topics like homosexuality and immigration are touched on here. The two gay men are not really accepted by their families. Even further is that Tareq cannot be out to his, so all of his previous experience has been kept really anonymous. The issue of Tareq coming to a very white country and feeling completely isolated is also looked at. Because of all the conflicts in the world this is going to be a more and more common issue.