I make a point of trying to see coming-of-age films about young women by women (see Glen’s Letterboxd list for examples). Even at their weakest, such films offer a refreshing perspective into a world and worldview too often neglected.
Little Wing is one of the latest examples of this subgenre and, sad to say, it’s a disappointment. Selma Vilhunen’s Finnish film, screening at the Scandinavian Film Festival, covers familiar subject matter; 12 year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog) has to deal with bullies at her pony club, her single mum struggling make ends meet, an absent schizophrenic father while still finding time to steal cars with her would-be boyfriend.
Despite adopting a naturalistic aesthetic, though, Little Wing never feels anything but inauthentic, straining under the contrivances of its screenplay. I buy the uneven power dynamics between Varpu and her mother (Paula Vesala), who seems to treat her daughter as a friend and confidant rather than a dependent, but how can she afford to send Varpu to pony club and not buy her a birthday present? Why has Varpu never made an attempt to find her father before the events of the film? Nothing adds up, which leaves Little Wing feeling ultimately unsatisfying.