The Punk Syndrome Review

Film Still
  • The Punk Syndrome film still


This bittersweet documentary chronicles the lives of a ramshackle Finnish punk band with a difference.

From the outset, this raucous, amusing and often rather doleful documentary presents itself as another tale of against-the-odds human endeavor as it tells the unlikely tale of the strangely-named Finnish punk outfit, Pertti Kurikka's Name Day. Its four members all possess developmental disabilities, but power of punk rock serves to galvanize their woes will also proffering them a neat creative niche.

But as the film progresses, it mutates from a semi-ironic ramshackle portrait of a punk band (a la Anvil! The Story Of Anvil) into a rather moving investigation into how attitudes towards the disabled have changed (for the better) over the years. The rebellion is sometimes mild – drummer Toni refuses to wash his hands after going to the toilet, lead-singer Kari sings a growling dirge about his hatred of podiatry – but it all serves to make the band's music that much more interesting and idiosyncratic.

Directors Jukka Kärkkäinen and Jani-Petteri Passi stick to a fairly standard rock-doc template which traces the band's miniature ascendence from bumbling, argumentative outfit to the have-a-go-heroes of an outdoor punk festival and proud producers of a 7" single.

But it's the small, lingering details that bolster the film's overall impact: a scene in which outspoken lead singer Pertti goes off on a lengthy, apparently blasé diatribe about how he was abandoned as a child and how he once considered jumping in front of a Metro train speaks volumes about the sterling efforts being made to normalise attitudes towards those we may construe as different. It also reminds us that deep existential gloom is not beyond the reach of anyone.

But alongside the death (most of which is emotionally expunged via the music), there is also love, and the film runs with a parallel tale of Kari's desire to marry and have children and Toni's difficulty at expressing his true feelings to a girl living in his home who sadly has eyes for another. It's a charming film which, while not re-inventing the wheel formally, does a lot to try and make its audience see the world a little differently.

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