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The Punk Syndrome: portrait of a cult band with learning disabilities

The Punk Syndrome follows the members of Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat, all four of whom have learning disabilities.

Jussi Puikkonen

2.5 out of 4 stars

Directed by
Jukka Karkkainen, Jani-Petteri Passi
Pertti Kurikka, Kari Aalto, Sami Helle, Toni Valitalo
Finland, Norway, Sweden

The Punk Syndrome is a cinéma vérité portrait of a Finnish punk band, Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat (Pertti Kurikka's Name Day), whose four members all have learning disabilities, including Down syndrome and autism. A cult act with a following in Scandinavia and Germany, the band plays short, fast songs about things that annoy them, from group homes to pedicurists.

Pertti Kurikka, the namesake of the band, is the 55-year-old lead guitarist and main songwriter. Kari, the growling, charismatic front man, seeks to live independently with his girlfriend. Sami, the bassist, who shows up for various conservative political functions, has a gift for getting on Pertti's and Kari's nerves. Toni, the drummer and baby of the mostly middle-aged group, is stressed about thoughts of leaving his parents and moving into a group home.

Apart from the issues related to their disabilities, this is an entirely familiar behind-the-scenes portrait of a rock band, whose members transcend their personal problems when they play and have a modest talent for expressing badass attitude with loud riffs and a steady beat. That makes them like a lot of other rock bands out there, which, presumably, is the point.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More


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