Vares Retrospective Part IV: Vares – Huhtikuun tytöt (2011)

Vares – Huhtikuun tytöt (The Girls of April) is the second film starring Antti Reini as the ultra clever, handsome and booze-ridden private detective Jussi Valtteri Vares, and the fourth in the series as a whole. It was filmed back to back with the preceding Pahan suudelma and the subsequently released two movies Sukkanauhakäärme and Kaidan tien kulkijat. This is the film that sold me on Antti Reini and the “new style” of Vares movie, after my initial disappointment with what I viewed as a watering down of the concept. The somewhat tighter, more serious format of the former film now changes somewhat. Jussi Vares and especially his friends take on slightly more “out there” characteristics. They indulge in bizarre exploits such as infiltrating a sex addicts anonymous meeting in the vague hope of getting laid (which does actually connect to the plot).

Flashbacks and border line horror segments adds further to the overall image. The cosmopolitan, big-city feel is still there, but it is no longer annoying in the way it was in the former one. Perhaps you get used to it, perhaps there’s actually a difference. Since I can’t unsee either movie, that is something I can’t really explore further. Suffice it to say, with this movie the Vares series is back to full speed, though in a way that combines the insanity of the first two with the slightly more restrained, “modern” style of the third.

The story begins simple enough, with Vares being asked by a recurring character, reporter friend Toimittaja Ruuhio (ably played by too-good-looking-not-to-be-a-dick-on-film Mikko Leppilampi), to open an investigation into an old, unsolved case involving three murdered girls. The newshound’s main motivation is to sell papers, and the eternally short on cash Vares naturally accepts after giving vent to a few misgivings. From there, things spin off in all sorts of directions, as usual, and when the film ends the original plot device is already solidly in the background – buried under a wide range of strange figures with fascinating character arcs.

The psychotic head villain, one of many suspects in the extremely complicated plot, is also more “old-school Vares“, though darker than most of the bad guys of the previous entries in the series. In the drawn out prelude to a gruesome (though off screen) murder of a young homosexual man, outrageous dialogue and a penis cake manages to add an insane sense of humor to what is really rather unpleasant.

The Girl’s of April is a solid film, and most of the short comings of the predecessor have been ameliorated or erased completely by the film makers’ love for strangeness and intense black humour. It is a movie to watch while drinking beer – with buddies or alone – and it is a movie which bears watching a couple of times. Them Vares plots ain’t no easy thing to come to grips with in one sitting.

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