The Good Son (Hyvä Poika, 2011)

The Good Son (Hyvä Poika, 2011), a film by Zaida Bergroth is a dark comedy reflecting a relationship between Ilmari (Samuli Niittymäki), a teenager who is trying to be the man of the house and Leila (Elina Knihtilä), a mother who has a hold on her son’s mind.

Ilmari soon meets a girl who shares her mother’s manipulative personality. Leila shows no interest towards her youngest son Unto (Eetu Julin), who is escaping the adult problems into his own bubble of nature videography. Ilmari’s girlfriend is making Leila raise her alertness on her surroundings. But because she is an actress, she hides her uncertainty behind a martyr smile.

It was obvious that Ilmari and Leila were sharing a non-erotic Oedipus relationship. In a way Leila was slightly happy to see Ilmari meeting a girl, but at the same time her presence unlocked some hidden aggression and fear about an other woman taking her place in the limelight.

This aggression is launched indirectly towards Aimo (Eero Aho), who arrived to Leila’s summer villa with a crew of Leila’s friends. After the friends went away, Aimo decides to stay for another night. After a short while he finds out that Ilmari was only going to push his buttons and Leila is enjoying the attention she is given. She loves the drama.

Author Aimo is represented as a character with something to hide. His sudden temper tantrums made me wonder was his wife’s drowning an accident? This said, Aimo has somewhat a passive-aggressive personality who gets into trouble by rejecting Ilmari’s girlfriend, another martyr and a teenager looking for assurance. She executes her tests the same way as Leila does: by feeding Ilmari’s jealousy over the women in his life.

Even though the film is representing a hard grow-up story of Ilmari, it can make the audience laugh for couple times. Bergroth is able to capture the Finnish summer landscape with drunkenness and losing your sense of shame. It is seemingly amusing when Leila’s guest is rolling out from the car drunk and naked. Another hilarious part is Aimo’s bitchiness as a dramatic author.

Overall, the film is a portrait of the absurd and disoriented artistic lifestyle. A family where no one wants to grow up. I like the ending of this movie. Leila is finally starting to realize how she has been playing with fire when tempting her unstable son to carry the role of a protecting man figure at such a young age.

Suddenly the atmosphere in the film changes from warm day to a cold reality check. It seems like the whole family is waking up to its worst hangover. The only person who is enjoying his life is the little brother Unto (Eetu Julin).  He seems to be the one holding the Good Son title on his shoulders. Ilmari tries perhaps a bit too hard to please his mother’s wishes.

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