Onni von Sopanen (2006)

Onni von SopanenOnni von Sopanen is a 2006 Finnish film directed by Johanna Vuoksenmaa. The main protagonist is Onni (Kaarlo Somerto), an eleven-year-old boy who lives with his parents and older sister Isa.

One day, after a Biology class at school, Onni starts to suspect that he might be adopted because the color of his eyes does not match those of his parents.

Furthermore, he believes that his older sister always gets what she wants, while he has to be content with the leftovers – such as his mom’s old cell phone. A new kid joins Onni’s class, and he makes no secret that his mother adopted him, which for a while gets onto Onni’s nerves.

There are very few things that may get one’s attention in this otherwise typical youth TV film from Finland. Firstly, one can get used to the lack of snow or any winter scenes from watching Scandinavian movies. Secondly, a scene that gives away the European origin of the flick: a group of boys with Speedos making fun of one who wears shorts as a swimming suit (something I see as the norm rather than an exception).

Other than that, there are very few suspenseful scenes, events, or story twists that might keep one interested in the film past the first twenty minutes. It almost feels like someone took a camera on a class field trip or to school and filmed around.

Kaarlo Somerto and Julius Vakkuri as Onni and Josku in Onni von Sopanen (2006)
Kaarlo Somerto and Julius Vakkuri as Onni and Josku in Onni von Sopanen

Onni von Sopanen is a sensible movie told from the perspective of its  11-year-old protagonist. It is rather dry and subtle in its humor but includes excellent character acting and writing.

It’s tough, though,  to criticize any film too harshly that shows the daily life of Finnish kids nowadays. Maybe the events that occur in this day and age are somewhat less adventurous and exciting than those of the past.

That would explain why so many great Coming-of-Age stories are set in the 60s or the 70s. Still, Onni von Sopanen, while intended as a fun children’s film, is more likely to bore you than entertain you (the funniest thing about the film is its DVD cover art).


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