Going into any foreign comedy I set my irritation tolerance levels high and prepare myself for lots of cringe inducing moments of dialogue and more often than not fart jokes. Comedy films in general have the unenviable task of being so universal that humor isn’t lost in translation. This is not to be xenophobic, American films have only a slightly higher rate of export, and that’s mostly due to star power alone. Much of the time its horror or action film that have the easiest time drawing in overseas box office. People can die screaming in any language and everyone still understands the cultural context.
Then there’s Heavy Trip. A film that succeeds on charm, wit, and a reverence for character that makes it one of the best viewing experiences I’ve had in ages. I genuinely walked away a little emotional, and I’m 97% dead inside due to years of treating my body like I’m at war with it.
This is a Finnish film centered on the death metal band “Impaled Rektum”. While in total it’s their journey to a music festival in Norway, it’s more about their repeated failures as outcasts that make them so endearing. It’s a very familiar set-up unknown band bets everything in a million to one chance at stardom. While the stakes may be the same, Heavy Trip’s execution is anything but familiar including just a blast of a last half hour.
The metal scene at large doesn’t have the best reputation for progressive views towards other people especially in the part of the world the film comes from. It’s surprising such a sweet emotionally relevant film came out concerning trying to reach the same country that Euronymous and Varg Vikernes were the face of an incredibly destructive black metal scene not that long ago.
I’ll unabashedly recommend the film, both as a fan of the music and the overall aesthetic. The big drawback is that it struggles to maintain a focused momentum. Especially during the first act it has several scenes that cut down some of the drive, but it never drags beyond the point of boredom. I think the third act more than pays off for the slow build but it’s also good to know going into it that there are some pacing issues.
There are moments that almost make it seem less like a broad comedy and more like an American indie film; its sensibility is strongly based in the insular world of the outcast metal band. With the world being the way it is (awful and crumbling) you can easily become jaded about the world. Films like this, about the transformative power of music and hope, told with class and clear execution. They are reminders that while everything might seem like it’s on fire, we still have a few more marshmallows left to toast.