Sign up for our free newsletter
It’s hard to know how to react to The Punk Syndrome, a film about a Finnish band called Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day whose four members are all mentally challenged. They’re decent musicians—at least in terms of three-chord blasts—and when directors J-P Passi and Jukka Kärkkäinen film their shows, it’s definitely a feel-good thing, with their audiences bouncing and banging their heads as lead singer Kari shouts about group homes and getting respect. Then there’s their offstage lives, full of tantrums and drama. Particularly confounding is the way in which guitarist Pertti is portrayed: An older man, Pertti is the chatty one. He talks about keeping a diary (“I can release my a-a-anger,” the subtitles say), explains the deadliness of various pieces of clothing (it’s a weird habit he has), and, when the band’s manager says he and his wife are having a baby, Pertti responds by explaining how babies are made (gestures included). You’re certainly not supposed to laugh at Pertti, but you can’t exactly laugh with him, either, because he ain’t. In fact, he complains a lot, and often gets teary. Are we supposed to feel sorry for him and his bandmates when they have their meltdowns? You ultimately feel a bit uncomfortable, as if you’re not meant to be a fly on these walls.