The Punk Syndrome – Jukka Karrkkainen & J-P Passi, Finland


The Punk Syndrome is a rock, sorry, punk documentary film that follows Finland’s Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day.

There’s infighting, jam sessions, gigs, tours, parties, love stories, broken hearts, moving out of your parents’ home, and pedicures.

And every single one of the band members is mentally challenged.

But in the best tradition of our species, and a few of the documentaries I’ve seen so far, that isn’t enough to keep these four guys down. And why should it?

Each of the band members is engaging and open with the camera, and by extension the audience.

Pertti the band’s leader and lead guitarist has a fascination for seams. He also writes most of the music for the band, though collaborates often with his band mates on the lyrics – songs about the institution, being mentally disabled, and even coffee.

Kari, the lead singer of the group, is 35, and thinking its high time to settle down. He and the band’s bassist Sami are often at odds with one another,due to the group home’s structured life, they have to go almost everywhere together. As Sami commented in the post-show Q&A that’s enough to bother everyone, but he considers the entire band family, and families often fight.

Sami is funny, engaging and delights in engaging the world.

The band’s drummer Toni, is my favorite, often watching the antics of his fellows with a look of disbelief on his face, and a sly smile. Or outright laughter as is the case when Sami competes in an athletic competition, and is asked if his pants are secured, to which Sami replies yes, of course and then promptly loses them around his knees.

This sequence, is wonderfully capped with a touching moment as Sami sits alone, upset and sad over his performance and having not won the competition and it’s Kari who goes over to see and comfort him.

In simpler hands this film could have descended into the exploitative, but directors J-P Passi and Jukka Karrkkainen accord these punkers the dignity and respect they deserve, and instead we are given a look into the lives of four musicians, who just want to live, love and rock out…

So kick out the jams and take a look at why this band has an increasingly large cult following.

The Punk Syndrome rocks out Monday April 30 at 1:15pm at the Cumberland, and Friday May 4 at 1:30pm at the ROM.

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