Running time: 1h 46min
Directed by Miia Tervo
Written by Miia Tervo
Starring Mimosa Willamo, Amir Escandari, Elá Yildirim
Aurora is a Finnish drama/romantic comedy that also commentates about Finnish attitudes (and/or racism) towards immigration/refugees, made some years after the migrant crisis of 2015. The story follows Aurora, a young near-alcoholic blonde living in Finnish Lapland (northern Finland) who “goes with the flow” partying and day-drinking, seemingly without any greater aspirations or plans for the future. By chance she encounters down on his luck Iranian refugee Darian (Amir Escandari) and his young daughter Azar (Elá Yildirim). Gradually Aurora and Darian become friends, and eventually, somewhat clunkily, more than that.
Aurora is a competently made film that works for most of its running time but falls apart in the final third of the film where it becomes a fairly standard romance. Perhaps writer/director Miia Tervo was having difficulty figuring out how to best end the story, but I feel like the ending undermines the quality film that Aurora is before it descends into mediocrity and predictability. It is a shame, since with a better, less cliched ending I feel Aurora could have been something memorable, instead of just a pretty alright movie that has its moments but no lasting effect.
The acting is uneven; Aurora is played excellently by Mimosa Willamo, but the other main lead, played by Amir Escandari, does not manage to be convincing all the time, especially in the more dramatic scenes. The other actors fall somewhere in between these two in terms of their competence in their roles. I have no complaints about the technical aspects of the film, it is the script and the acting that drag Aurora down. As I said, the film is also partly comedy, and while not all of the humor worked for me, a good amount of it did. I will not speak at length about the plot or the side characters, but I will mention that perhaps the biggest “twist” or subversion of the film is how a black character (played fairly well by Chike Ohanwe) turns out to be the one with the most negative preconceptions towards refugees, and who is also very “Finnish” in his nature (having a stereotypically Finnish name, enjoying stereotypical Finnish activities such as using the sauna etc.). This is a somewhat clever way of getting the audience to think about matters such as ethnicity, nationality, stereotypes, and racism, as well as having some humor value to it.
I don’t really have much more to say about Aurora. It is a good movie that I can recommend to people interested about the premise, but it is not a masterpiece by any means. The film is entertaining for most of its length, but the romantic cliché that it ends on is a severe let down. The acting is uneven and the script falters, but otherwise it is alright entertainment.
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 0
Would I want to rewatch this film? I could maybe be convinced