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TIFF 2017: Euthanizer Review

Contemporary World Cinema

Veijo doesn’t have much time for people. He much prefers animals, which is why he’s taken it upon himself to provide an alternative to the euthanizing services provided by the local vet. Cats and small dogs get the gas, bigger dogs a bullet to the head. You’ll save a few bucks by going to him, but you’ll likely get a lecture about how your pet’s suffering began long before it became old and sick. The price may just be a little poetic justice.

Finnish director Teemu Nikki finds a compelling protagonist in the tortured Veijo, played to perfection by Matti Onnismaa. It’s his love of animals that makes him feel like this is his calling, his cross to bear. He sees himself as the self-appointed bringer of karma, but seems to also sense the hypocrisy in this. As righteous as he is, there’s a layer of self loathing beneath his highly composed exterior.

In addition to a compelling protagonist, Euthanizer also finds a unique love story with a masochistic nurse and easy villains in a gang of animal-abusing white supremacists.  Things escalate in unexpected ways to an ultimately dark as fuck conclusion. At least any harm done to the animals is off-screen, but not before Nikki inevitably shows a close-up of their cute, unsuspecting faces.

It’s manipulative to be sure, but pet lover or not, you’d have to be pretty heartless to not have an emotional reaction to Euthanizer.

 


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