Discovery

Little Wing

Selma Vilhunen

Frustrated by her mother’s erratic behaviour, a 12-year-old girl sets out on an impromptu quest to find her birth father, in this sharp and touching portrait of adolescence from Oscar-nominated Finnish filmmaker Selma Vilhunen.

Adolescence may be the toughest period any of us go through. Our bodies and body chemistry begin to change; our friends, out of insecurity or just plain nastiness, begin to emulate and enforce the social divisions they see elsewhere; and we begin to realize that those we've held in high esteem are decidedly far from perfect. These realizations come especially painfully for 12- year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog), the heroine of Oscar-nominated Finnish filmmaker Selma Vilhunen's feature debut Little Wing.

The girls at the horse stable where Varpu rides and trains have started to notice and comment about Varpu's home life, including her mother's odd behavior and absences — especially the fact that she doesn't drive — and the fact that Varpu has never mentioned her father. Varpu used to be okay with her mother's odd neuroses, but, pressured by her peers — and the sudden arrival of a new male friend in her mother's life — she grows increasingly frustrated by the behaviour of all the adults around her. After a fight at home, Varpu embarks on an impromptu quest to find her mysterious biological father. But even as she tackles and quickly becomes adept at supposedly "adult" activities — including driving, that ultimate marker of independence — she soon discovers that the ability to do adult things doesn't make you an adult.

Driven by Skog's disarming and affecting turn as Varpu and directed with acute sensitivity by Vilhunen, Little Wing is a sharp and touching portrait of adolescence.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

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