To the road – and back again? Escaping parents’ expectations in August and Garbage Prince

4/2012

Tommi Römpötti

The conflict between parents and their children is the basic subject in youth films. In 2011 premiered two Finnish films, August (dir. Oskari Sipola) and Garbage Prince (dir. Raimo O Niemi). The boys on the threshold of adulthood feel their parents’ expectations towards their future as so coercive and the emptiness of summer time ahead so distressing, that they jump in the car or train and leave their home and familiar surroundings behind.

The article asks who can afford to leave the safety of home behind in 21st century Finland. The withdrawals depicted in August and Garbage Prince tells stories of class society and economic geography of Finland in the 2000s. Both movies depict economically polarized country. On their journeys the protagonists contact with and adapt to members of classes different from their wealthy background.

Road movie is symptomatic in depicting resistance and youth rebellion. The road and youth are both in-between states, which are expected to lead from one place (childhood) to another (adulthood) as cleanly as possible. The representations of hitting the road, longing for freedom and different kind of life tell us about the ways cinema react to youngsters, who challenge their parents, society, and the order continuity.

The end is the most important ideological aspect in road movies as it closes the narrative discourse and proposes a final statement on the events of the road. From the point of view of the order, the stable situation is disturbed when home is left behind, and equilibrium is re-established when the protagonist returns home and re-integrates into society. In the end of August the protagonist is tied to continuity of societal order quite harshly in many ways. In Garbage Prince the end is not as determined as the protagonist refuses to return to the expectations of neoliberal order of his parents. Though the young is still in some community order, he is living more in his own terms.