The Prince of Soap and Act Normal

The Prince of Soap is a fun, fluffy Finnish comedy set mostly at a soap opera where the real life stories of the writers and cast find their way into the script, and vice versa. Ilona is a starving actress who accidentally ends up as a writer on the soap. The other two key characters are Kalle (the star of the soap, playing a handsome firefighter) and Raakel (the main writer, who is having an affair with Kalle).

I was reminded at times of Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald, a Japanese film set at a radio drama. Both are quite fun, with twists and turns as the story is written and continually rewritten as the film unfolds.

Act Normal is a documentary made in Iceland, though it is primarily in English because the primary subject is a British man who at 18 years of age went to Thailand for a few months to study Buddhism. He ended up staying and becoming a monk, later moved to Iceland, fell in love with a Russian woman, left the monastic life, got divorced, and went back in. What is interesting to me is how he blends the monk’s detachment from what we would call normal life focuses with a surprisingly earthy sense of humor (he uses the F-word early in the film, for example). On the downside, the film is quite slow and seemed to have some filler to get it up to its 80 minute length.

The Prince of Soap rates about 3 stars out of 4 stars. Act Normal is more like 2.5 stars out of 4 stars.

Seen 3/1/2007 at Cinequest.


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