Director Dome Karukoski has a personal connection to the subject matter of his latest film. The Grump is about one man’s isolation in a modern world he doesn’t recognise. In this case the grump is an ageing Finnish gentleman who built the house he lives in, eats the potatoes he grows and doesn’t trust anyone as much as his Ford Escort. When he falls and requires physiotherapy he is forced out of his comfortable and familiar habitat and into an unfamiliar land of independent women, electric toothbrushes and soy bolognese. The grump must stay with his daughter-in-law who is simultaneously trying to close a deal with some Russians in order to become partner at the international company she works for. The grump provides lectures and judgement a plenty – making offensive generalisations and remarks when none are wanted. All individuals involved must learn to be tolerant in this hilarious study of what it means to be family and what it means to grow old in a world in which you no longer fit. The film is deeply touching from start to finish, containing a constant tenderness amongst every funny, amusing moment of chaos. In the last year I lost my Grandfather. He was by no means a grump but I did find myself crying for him in the final fifteen minutes of The Grump. My Grandfather was kind, gentle and tolerant of his hectic, self-involved grandchildren who never took enough time to listen to his stories. I could relate to the film’s daughter-in-law character as she bites her tongue and patiently sits through each story of “life during the war”. I was moved to tears because I’d give anything to sit through one more of my Grandfather’s anecdotes. I find myself longing for another chance to ask him about his childhood or his travels across the globe.
I apologise for the personal, unprofessional tone this review has taken but there is something universal about the hardships of growing older; something The Grump sensitively captured. It’s very easy to forget that older generations were once rough around their youthful edges, just like you. The Grump delightfully reminds me of the exasperation that can gather between generations and reaffirmed to me that it’s part of the joyous chaos of family life. Perfectly imperfect; just flawed, wonderful life. The Grump is about a man becoming unable to fathom the actions and thought processes of his son whom doesn’t eat meat or know how to clean a gutter. The Grump challenges our preconceptions of one another and reminds us that we can all learn something from each other. It celebrates differences and individuality, letting us feel empathy with all parties. The Grump does all of this without becoming over-sentimental; its greatest achievement. The Grump is continuously amusing, written with wit and handled with great care. Despair, anger and intolerance threaten to suffocate everyone before human kindness and patience step in to save the day. You can’t change people and the sooner we all embrace that the happier we’ll all be – that’s what The Grump wants you to know. I was also charmed by the way it embraces grumpiness as an integral part of our human makeup. Never underestimate the power of grumpiness however much of a tyrant it makes you, it’s a human experience as universal as laughter or joy.
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