By Robert Stephen
(WINDSOR, ON) – After a couple of very good films at Hot Docs 2012 I suppose sooner or later my luck would run up on the reef of unsatisfactory movies. The premise of Punk Syndrome is compelling as four mentally challenged men in Helsinki form a punk band, “Perrti Kurikka’s Name Day” and relate some of their personal stories interspersed with performance footage. The great and obvious weakness is there is not enough of their music and performances although their last performance shows the long road they have travelled and you’d like to get up and say, “Well done lads!” but aside from that moment of inspiration I think it’s a relief as the movie concludes.
What has gone wrong? Firstly we all know that no matter the mental state of any individual there is often greatness within. So the accomplishments of Toni, Kari, Sami and Perrti are perhaps not as novel as we are supposed to believe. Secondly the movie takes an almost Spinal Tap approach. I am not quite believing if I am being spoofed at or this is real. Perhaps this not the film’s fault but the lasting effect of Spinal Tap. Even if it’s not real it is walking a very well-worn intellectual carpet. Thirdly there is no connection with the lads. Their personal stories are sometimes sad yet no connection with them is developed. The obsessiveness of Perrti with clothing seams is distracting if not mocking and demeaning. The pooping in the pants shower scene is even worse. Given that the lyrics in one of their songs is, “I need a little respect and dignity” the film shoots that down by literally putting a foot in its mouth. I get the sense Toni, Kari, Sami and Perrti are being exploited but thank goodness there is just enough in the film to show despite their handicap they do have a unique perspective on life just like you and I do. Boring. (Punk Syndrome, Finland, 85 minutes, Directors Jukka Kärkhäinen and J.P. Passi, NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE in TORONTO AT HOT DOCS 2012, 28April, 30 April and 4 May)