Veera W. Vilo’s portrayal of a free skater is deep and convincing. © Bright Fame Pictures 2021

Sometimes less is more. Veera W. Vilo knows this. She’s the writer and the lead actor of Free Skate, the best Finnish film I’ve seen this year.

What do I mean when I say less is more? Simply: many Finnish films are plagued with over-boring dialogue, dry or simply bad humor, let alone never-ending drama about relationships.


Free Skate is a different animal.

In the command of director Roope Olenius, the pacing of Free Skate is somewhat slower than the contemporary trend of fast cuts that may come in many shapes and forms but are more likely to give you epileptic seizures than pull you into a plot with an emotional connection. Free Skate is far, far away from directors and producers who worship the Hollywood sign.

What is the story about then? In a nutshell, it tells the tale of a promising figure skater who flees from Russia to Finland from dire circumstances. It importantly highlights some of the problems young women may face at a high level in competitive sports. Free Skate creates real suspense in a thriller of two hours.

The film is largely carried forward by Veera W. Vilo’s talent and devotion to her craft; her transformation from a beaming real-life personality to a shy, insecure figure skater glues you to the seat.

This one, folks, is a heavy contender in this year’s Jussi Awards. And while we are at it, why not send it to the Academy as well? It may very well end up on the shortlist for the Oscars.

‘Free Skate’ plays in cinemas now. The film is mostly spoken in English and Finnish.

Veera W. Vilo, 32, is not only an actor and a writer but also a former junior world champion in aesthetic group gymnastics. She was born in Oulu, lives in Espoo. In ‘Free Skate’ she’s phenomenal. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY
From left: Roope Olenius, the director, Veera W. Vilo, the writer and the lead actor, of ‘Free Skate’ are standing with some of the members of the production crew at the premiere for invited guests at Finnkino Tennispalatsi on October 5, 2022. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY