Oscar Nominee Selma Vilhunen Puts Open Relationship at the Heart of ‘Four Little Adults,’ First Clip Debuts (EXCLUSIVE)01/25/2023
Sales agency LevelK has unveiled the first clip (below) for Selma Vilhunen’s “Four Little Adults,” set to bow at Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam and then Goteborg. The film sees a happily married couple faced with an affair and then trying to embrace it, welcoming the husband’s lover into their daily routine. And that’s just the beginning.
The film was produced by Tuffi Films, with Aurora Films, Hobab and Manny Films also on board. It stars Eero Milonoff (“Border”) and Alma Pöysti (“Tove”).
“All my life I have been wondering about monogamy. I guess I have been questioning my own choices, what they are based on and whether it’s really the right way to live,” the Finnish filmmaker says.
As the conversations around alternative relationships grew louder (“especially in Finland,” she notes), Vilhunen also reached for “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory” by Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux.
“It’s an important book,” she says. “It questions some of the structures we have created in our society, thousands of years ago, when we first came up with these ideas of possessing land, animals and people. It just made me so curious.”
Vilhunen, who also wrote the script, wanted to “write about love,” she says.
Vilhunen, who was Oscar-nominated for short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?,” explored the subject in “Little Wing,” about a mother and a daughter, and 2019 Crystal Bear winner “Stupid Young Heart,” focusing on teenage parents-to-be. But it has been a while since she focused on its more mature incarnation.
“Back in 2007, I made a TV film called ‘Pietà.’ It was about people in their late twenties, so my age at that time. It’s very true that I am interested in love as a subject and polyamory could be viewed as its fullest form. You allow your loved one to love other people as well.”
But good intentions are one thing – figuring out all the logistics is quite another. Which, predictably, leads her characters into many awkward situations.
“It was fun. I felt I could write about everything precisely because they are middle-aged. They have gone through so much already,” she says.
“This awkwardness was at the very core of my initial idea – even the title is a nod to their imperfections. They are entering these situations honestly; they don’t care about being ‘sexy.’ But it’s interesting to see how difficult it is to do the right thing, to be a good person.”
Especially when other people are looking. Juulia is a promising politician who might even become her party’s leader, Matias – a respected priest. There is a lot at stake, but after a while a future without Enni and Miska (Oona Airola and Pietu Wikström) seems unthinkable.
“They are struggling with the question of how truthful and open they can be about this new lifestyle. I guess I wanted to put them in a difficult place,” she says.
“Also, their jobs represent these institutions we have created, the ones that try to enforce ‘the norms.’ I chose the parliament and the church because I am always interested in seeing people working together, in how they can handle things when they have different expectations and needs.”
With one of the characters identifying as non-binary and a slew of non-white supporting players, Vilhunen tried to portray a more diverse Finnish society.
“It was a conscious choice. I am affected by the conversations that are going on at the moment. It also felt connected to the theme of the movie,” she says.
“This is my reality too – it reflects it more [accurately] than what I see in sitcoms or more normative stories. But I have been thinking about the fact that it’s all a bit in the background. After all, my main characters are all white.”
Following its festival showings, the film is currently eyeing a December release date in Finland. But while the modern Christmas movie canon has recently welcomed queer rom-com “Happiest Season” into its midst, Vilhunen isn’t sure if “Four Little Adults” could pull off a similar feat.
“I don’t see it exactly as a Christmas film but it’s definitely quite Christmassy,” she laughs.
“I am extremely influenced by [Ingmar Bergman’s] ‘Fanny and Alexander’ and it has this phenomenal Christmas scene. The way the grandparents’ house looks like in my film is a nod to that too.”
“Also, it’s a loaded holiday that comes with so many expectations. You are supposed to be loving, make sure everyone is happy. You can’t be certain [a situation like that] can create proper drama, but it does. We all have our weaknesses.”
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