My friend Mikko, who is Finnish, has been hounding me to watch 'Steam of Life' for a few years now. I used to be a pretty regular "streamer" on Justin.tv (and eventually what it became, Twitch.tv) from about 2011 to mid-2014. That's where I first met Mikko, we've been really close friends ever since. Finnish people adore their saunas. Learning the little things about Finland over the years from Mikko, kind of prepared me for the back story of a lot of the things done in Finland, including the saunas themselves.
'Steam of Life' is a documentary, in which we enter Finnish saunas, listen to men pour out their hearts and tell us stories of their lives.
This isn't a feel good film. A lot of the stories told by these men are full of sorrow and sadness. It doesn't make them any less heartfelt. The men are truly speaking from their heart, and the emotion pours out of each individual story. The style of each shot is outstanding as well. Capturing the essence of all the different types of saunas we see throughout the film. The shots of Finland, such as landscapes, cityscapes and mountains are beautiful, and bridge the gap between each story very nicely. I'm not a huge documentaries viewer, but the lack of a narrator is something that I liked in this film. Letting good music and cinematography fill time between each story. 'Steam of Life' isn't without it's problems though. If you don't know anything about Finland, you may not fully understand why they love their saunas so much. Why they see them as almost a safe-haven to really let loose and be themselves. So even a brief history lesson at the start of this film may help people unfamiliar, familiarize themselves with Finland just a little bit. This is a very niche documentary as well, that's not going to appeal to a wide range of people.
By all accounts I've heard over the years, Finland is a pretty cool place, that I hope to one day visit. 'Steam of Life' captures the reality of people living in Finland immensely. The cinematography is beautiful. The stories are raw and emotional (with a few fun ones sprinkled in). The saunas themselves are shot beautifully. Each one has its own character, setting the backdrop for a given tale. This isn't for everyone, but if you can get behind the premise of this, I think you'll really enjoy it. Thanks for getting on me to watch this, Mikko, I wish I would've watched it sooner.