Thursday, 8 August 2013

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana [1994]

Running at just over an hour, comprising of a minimalist set-up, featuring four characters without much of a background arc, and largely bereft of dialogues and significant plot developments, Kaurismaki’s Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana is one of the simplest films one can hope to watch. Yet, with its share of deadpan humour, droll observations, idiosyncratic people, understated poignancy, and reined-in aesthetics, this would rank amongst the Finnish filmmaker’s most deceptively brilliant films, and as, in many ways, a quintessential Kaurismaki. It begins with Valto (Mato Valtonen), a the hulking and taciturn tailor addicted to coffee, locking up his over-bearing mother, clearing up his accounts, and going on an impromptu road-trip with Reino (Matti Pellonpää), a shy, rock music-loving and vodka-gulping auto mechanic. During the trip they pick up Tatiana (Kati Outinen) and Klavdia (Kirsi Tykkyläinen), a Russian and an Estonian, respectively, looking for a ride to the ship they need to catch. Though not the communicative types, the two men perfectly understand each other; the ladies, despite their failed attempts at starting conversations, forge surprisingly affecting and even profound relationships with the men over the course of their journey and their stopovers at cafés, restaurants and motels. Aki cheekily played on national stereotypes and filled the film with bone-dry humour, while also providing quietly melancholic portrayals of the lonely souls silently traveling to nowhere, and inwardly craving for companionship and freedom from their dreary lives. All the four actors, and Valtonen and Pellonpää, in particular, were superb, as were the subdued B/W photography and the pop/rock soundtrack.

Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Genre: Comedy/Buddy Film/Road Movie/Romance
Language: Finish/Russian
Country: Finland

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