Reindeerspotting: A Junkie's Tale

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Reindeerspotting: Escape From Santaland
Directed by Joonas Neuvonen
June 8 through 13, MOMA

Junkies are junkies wherever you go, and in this gonzo doc, the ashen, frigid cityscapes of Finland are home to a busy tribe of thieving hopheads devoted to the smack stand-in Subutex. Off-screen, director Joonas Neuvonen admits in an early title that he, too, uses daily, and indeed the film slouches and skitters along with a druggie’s lazy eye and penchant for serendipity. (Another HD video advantage: self-focus.) His protagonist and dope-buddy Jani is a scarecrow of a handsome teen who’s already had two fingers axed off in a dispute; his varied and intense ingestion of chemicals allows for an in-depth discussion of the hows and whats, but it’s also as tiresome as hanging with high friends when you’re sober, all of the action and amusement trapped in their skulls. Mostly pathetic but on occasion grimly funny (watching Christmastime reindeer races, a blasted idiot topples two stories to the street below, all caught in real-time by Neuvonen’s lens), Reindeerspotting eventually lights out for the frontier, like so many crazed-youth films before it. (In France, Subutex is free to junkies.) The Mediterranean sunlight intoxicates the Finns, but predictably it’s a dire road to nowhere.

 
 

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