Girl Picture is a fresh and unique piece of cinematic storytelling that won't soon be forgotten by those who made it or anyone who sees it.

Girl Picture Is A Clear, Crisp Snapshot of Real Teenage Life


Girl Picture, the Finnish-language, coming-of-age story that premiered at Sundance 2022 on January 24, was a passion project from the very beginning. When director Alli Haapasalo was approached by writers llona Ahti and Daniela Hakulinen about making a film about teenagers, she knew almost instantly that it was something she wanted to do. “I was extremely interested immediately in taking part,” Haapasalo says, “Their treatment of this story was very fresh and modern.” The script went through several reworkings over the next two years before the team secured funding, but some elements always remained the same, chiefly the journeys of it’s three protagonists.

Girl Picture tells the story of best friends Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff) and Rönkkö (Eleonoora Kauhanen) who want to live adventurous lives loaded with memorable experiences and passion. Mimmu and Rönkkö work together at a smoothie shop in the mall, and they are the type of friends who always have each other’s backs through thick and thin. When Mimmi falls in love with Emma (Linnea Leino), a fiercely talented figure skater, it’s a first and all-consuming love for both of them. Meanwhile, Rönkkö is on a quest to find and understand sexual pleasure. Over the course of three Fridays, the girls’ lives are turned upside down. 

“I was extremely interested immediately in taking part … Their treatment of this story was very fresh and modern.”

“Why I got so interested in getting onboard was that it was such a great period in a human being’s life to be making a story about,” Haapasalo says. ” In films we need to have things at stake all the time, but who in this world has more things at stake than teenagers?” For Haapasalo and her collaborators, it was important to make a film about female sexuality that defied the worst conventions of other films. “We are quite used to seeing female sexuality depicted on screen through a pretty rough lens. Either women are seen as objects of desire, or if they are active participants, it’s a pretty rough look … We don’t really see a healthier depiction of what it could be just to be a sexual human being … This film is trying to make the point that everybody is a sexual being. It’s a normal, sometimes problematic part of life and everybody should be allowed to explore their sexuality safely and freely.”

The young actresses who starred in Girl Picture were quickly caught up in the infectiousness of Haapasalo, Ahti and Hakulinen’s enthusiasm. “There’s so much of us in the scenes,” says Milonoff, who plays Mimmi, “because we sat down and talked even more than [we] actually rehearsed.”The young actresses talked about their teenage years, as did the director and the writers. As a group, they were determined to bring a sense of reality to the screen. “The girls own the movie.” Milonoff says “Everything is portrayed in such a way that it’s their own story.”

“We went through the script, and the scenes and every single line,” Leino says. ”And every word.” Leino says that being given the freedom to experiment and alter dialogue to make it feel more authentic made Girl Picture a collaborative experience that ultimately led to a better film.

“This film is trying to make the point that everybody is a sexual being.”

“We talked about stuff that wasn’t in the script,” Kauhanen says  like for example, you never see or hear of Rönkkö’s parents, or family.” Detailed backstories and context were able to help the actors build a three-dimensional world that these characters could inhabit and bring the vision of the movie to life. We went through everything so thoroughly that I felt like I know Rönkkö from top to bottom.”

Another important element for Haapasalo was the relationship between Mimmi and Emma. “Sexual orientation, in this film, is a non issue,” Haapasalo. ”We believe that it should be in real life also. The love story between Mimmi and Emma’s characters is a human relationship as it should be, and not a story about coming out.”

The actors worked tirelessly to bring these characters to life, with Milanoff and Kauhanen spending countless hours together in their downtime in order to get the chemistry just right, and Leino even learning how to skate for her role. Girl Power is a project that inspired everyone involved to bring their A game, Haapasalo and her cast have worked together to create something truly mesmerizing. The level of commitment to honesty and artistry is evident in every frame, whether it comes from the frankness of the dialogue, the undeniable truth of the acting or the sensitive vision of the director.

Girl Picture is a fresh and unique piece of cinematic storytelling that won’t soon be forgotten by those who made it or anyone who sees it, and one of the most memorable films to come out of the festival this year.