Punk Voyage / Tokasikajuttu

Although the second instalment of the story of the Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN) entitled Punk Voyage showcases some interesting moments, it’s definitely not capable of fulfilling the expectations.

JP Passi and Jukka Kärkkäinen’s latest film about the band entitled Punk Voyage follows PKN (Pertti Kurikka’s Name Days in English) throughout their journey to Vienna, Austria to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. While in their native Finland they kick ass and win by a large margin, on the European level they don’t manage to get into the final. During their rehearsal process for the big event, they also perform at different venues and their lives are about to take turns. The professional and personal lives of the four band members are doomed to clash, and changes are in the air. Pertti announces his retirement that will surely have a huge impact on the entire brand: as one of them (Sami) explains it, Pertti will make them unemployed. So one can imagine that the words said are fuelled by lots of emotions, sometimes a storm of them.

PKN was an unbelievably popular Finnish punk band for a reason, so after their last gig probably numerous people expressed their sadness. The first film The Punk Syndrome (2012) perfectly captured the band members’ life and showed its viewers something incredible, something to gain inspiration from. Their lyrics reflected upon their band members’ own situation and various social and political messages were conveyed in them. In contrast with the previous film, the sequel entitled Punk Voyage barely has a charm, and it hasn’t got the capacity to seduce either the returning or brand new viewers. A few sparkling moments do occur but it seems that this particular selection of scenes was cut out from the former film, although it was not. The amount of music has been decreased as well and the camera is more likely to focus on something else than the punk songs.

As its title suggests, the Passi and Kärkkäinen’s Punk Voyage is about a journey in the glittery parade with a red carpet that’s called Eurovision Song Contest. Nevertheless, not the contest but the side events comprised of plentiful outstandingly awkward moments are the ones viewers should pay attention to. It’s not the first time for PKN to travel abroad but this is one of their first internationally high-profile events that includes meeting with politicians and other people on that level far away from home. That results in situations in which both the band members and the other guests invited to the Embassy of Finland in Vienna are out of their comfort zone, and they are all struggling to stay tolerant – for a number our hours at least. During these certainly inconvenient minutes, the camera and the directors don’t make exceptions. They let the viewers feel the awkwardness and see how the social norms practised by many – not the punk band though, as they stretch the limits constantly – are fading away. Just like any other punk band would in fact do. Of course, one needs to take into account that all the four members of PKN are mentally challenged people, who started playing together as part of a workshop organised by Lyhty, which a charity for adults with developmental disabilities.

Nonetheless, that is merely a piece of information. They might have their own challenges, but the strength of the first film was that it was only an adage, and we were able to follow four stubborn but determined men ready to pursue their dreams whatever those are. That, what made The Punk Syndrome so powerful and engaging, has been hardly part of Punk Voyage, and the result is a mediocre piece. It’s a pity, indeed! Pertti, Kari, Sami and Toni are still lovable characters, but, unfortunately, this film does not let us know them better. It seems that Pertti forgetting to flush the toilet is more important than any other aspects of his life. For the sake of new audiences, of course, it is indispensable to introduce the band members and the dynamic between them, but that doesn’t mean several scenes are needed to elaborate on the same issues over and over again. Punk might not be dead, but Passi and Kärkkäinen have failed this time.

Barbara Majsa

Barbara is a journalist, editor and film critic. She usually does interviews with film-makers, artists, designers, and writes about cinema, design and books.