Review | Queer couple face tense neighbourhood battle in ‘NIMBY’

NIMBY | Dir: Teemu Nikki | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

This Finnish film opens and closes with a seductive dance. Surrounded by other same-gender couples, Mervi (Susanna Pukkila) and Kata (Almila Bagriacik) are at a Helsinki nightclub at the beginning of the film. They have been together for a year and circumstances now force them to declare their relationship to their parents. With Kata’s parents flying in from Berlin, they decide to visit Mervi’s parents, who live in a country town, first.

The acronym NIMBY stands for Not In My Back Yard, referring to people objecting to things they perceive as undesirable not allowing them to occupy the places where they live – such as prisons, drug rehabilitation centres and refugee camps. More privileged people can ensure they are located elsewhere.

This multilingual satire dumps everything into the backwater house that Mervi had hoped never to return to. Family secrets are discovered – such as her parents having an open bisexual, swinging marriage with the local minister and his wife. And their son Mika (Ekias Westerberg) who was engaged to Mervi is now hanging with a dangerous group of Neo-Nazis in the yard.

The Neo-Nazis, who are protesting the refugee centre in ‘their’ town, are fairly one dimensional, and their leader Artsi (Matti Onnismaa) just happens to be the brother if the afore mentioned local minister. When Kata’s parents arrive from Berlin Artsi sees a better target in the form of Kata’s mother who is a well-known Muslim politician.

There is chaos outside the house as Artsi’s followers drink alcohol and burn things, and there is chaos in the house with the eight people forming into factions and pointing out everyone else’s shortcoming. The director is obviously pointing out that intolerance is universal, in a totally amusing way, and disaster will ensure if people don’t make efforts towards some sort of mutual understanding.

As a deadline is given before the house and its locked in occupants to be burnt to the ground by the heavily inebriated protesters, the tension mounts, but fortunately the film does finish up with more dancing.

NIMBY screens as part of the Revelation Film Festival that runs from 1 – 11 July at Luna, Leederville. See for more information.

Lezly Herbert

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