Zugvögel - ... einmal nach Inari

We picked up this film from a big basket of "Bargain Films" at a drugstore. Just the thing for an evening where you decide too late that you want to go to the movies. Zugvögel - ... einmal nach Inari is a sweet film by Peter Lichtefeld about a beer truck driver who is passionate about reading train timetables.

Okay, since we now have online databases for train connections this hobby has probably died out, but I must admit that as a student I actually purchased a German train table (must have been about 4 or 5 inches thick, printed on onion paper) and enjoyed reading it. One summer we even got student monthly passes for the German train system and rode the rails from Flensburg to Baden-Baden, from Garmish-Patenkirchen to Sylt. The question of how to get from A to B optimally (according to some parameter) fascinates me. Must be something about my Dad being a railroad engineer...

Anyway, Hannes was promised time off without pay to visit a competition for finding optimal train routes to take place in Inari, Finland, but a new boss gave him the choice of quitting or not taking off. He took off after punching the new boss in the nose. Unaware that the boss was subsequently killed by another disgruntled employee, he manages to stay one step ahead of the law in a series of comical situations reminiscent of that master filmmaker, Aki Kaurismäki.

My favorite is when he forgets that Finland is not in the same time zone as the rest of Europe and misses a date with the nice lady he keeps meeting, managing to be the very last person off the boat. The Finnish border patrol have a copy of his picture and are looking for him, but when they think every one is off the boat the one police man crumples up the picture and tosses it, saying "Who would escape from the police by going to Finland? You would have to be insane". The other guy says "Even insane people would not come to Finland" and then they drop the blinds, seconds before Hannes races past.

There are some wonderful camera scenes taken on trains along the route, making this a great film for train buffs. The woman, Sirpa Salonen, who gets mad at her computer husband for forgetting to water her roses and in revenge waters his keyboard before going after Hannes, writes him a note at one point: "It is a long distance from glances to affection" and seals it with a big lipstick kiss - how romantic! It has a happy end, of course, but not as syrupy as so many other romantic comedies.

Along with the German original the film seems to be available as "Junalinnut" in Finnish and as "Train Birds" or "Trains'n'Roses" in English.

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