The Cuckoo

This oddball little 2003 movie is...I think...Russian, but the three main characters speak Russian, Finnish and some sort of Laplander... which is actually the main point of the story. Of course the DVD is captioned. Whew!

WWII is winding down and a Russian officer is being taken back to be court marshaled. At the same time, a young Finnish sniper is being chained to a nearby rocky hillside for insubordination to the Nazis...he really doesn't want to fight anymore. He was a college student shanghaied into the war and has no more stomach for it.

Through a series of serendipitous events, the two men end up in the sturdy little hut of a young Laplander woman, whose husband was taken away to fight four years ago and she hasn't heard from him since. An interesting aspect of this movie is watching what she has to do for her day-to-day survival. Her life is hard, but she is a hard worker in a very matter-of-fact way, and it doesn't occur to her to complain.

Setting aside the plot devices that develop in this inevitable triangle, the charming thing about this script is how they fail to communicate. Each person continues to speak his or her own tongue and you see the others gamely try to respond. Obviously they have no idea what has been said, so their response is completely out of line, even though the first speaker fails to realize it. They use a combination of body language and hand signals for generalities but the fine points are completely lost. With the 20/20 insight of captions, you smile as their guesses get further and further afield, although you certainly hope the officer won't eat the mushrooms...

They are not aware when the war actually ends, although they have been hoping all along.