Lights in the Dusk

2006 Aki Kaurismaki movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: The most pathetic man on earth, a security guard in Helsinki, falls for a blond gal who he doesn't realize is way out of his league. They begin dating, but it turns out she's only using him so that she and another guy can steal jewelry from the mall where Koistenin works. Meanwhile, a woman who Koistenin purchases hot dogs from wonders why he isn't interested in her.

Getting to see an Aki Kaurismaki movie has become like a special ocassion for me. This is Kaurismaki attempting noir, complete with the biggest dupe for a protagonist you'll likely find, a pretty nasty femme fatale, and lots and lots of smoking. The camera floats a little more in this than in some of Kaurismaki's earlier work, but the style hasn't changed much. Things still crawl along at a snail's pace (but in a good way!), slowly enough to frustrate most folks used to watching movies with scenes where stuff actually happens. That's what I like about these movies though. You really get to appreciate the nuances of these quirky, mostly sad and desperate characters. Kaurismaki's characters aren't exactly rushing through life, really making Finland seem like the lethargic place on the planet, and it would almost seem unnatural to see them do much of anything. In fact, it's almost shocking to see any of his characters moving around much at all. The jewel thieving probably has the most rapid movements, and it's shot so that you don't even really see the characters. Another scene involves our protagonist and three burlier fellows taking it outside, and the director chooses to not have the camera go outside at all. Instead, he focuses on a swinging door and, once it stops swinging, just a door. Then, the three burlier fellows come back in, just as we expected they would. It's sad and it's humorous, and that's just what's really awesome about these movies, their ability to be both simultaneously. I don't want to say bittersweet because it would sound like a cliche. I think the only appropriate adjective is Kaurismakian. By the way, this has a poignant sweet ending, the sort of ending that you learn to expect from this guy, so it's not all despairing over the miserable existence of a true loser.

Somebody needs to make this guy's movies more widely available. One a year. That's all I'm asking for.

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