Saturday 12 October 2013

Drifting Clouds [1996]

Drifting Clouds, the first chapter in Kaurismaki’s ‘Finland Trilogy’, was a droll and darkly comic, yet also a gentle and affecting, examination of the effects of recession and the ensuing unemployment of the working class. Understandably, it was filled with disillusionment, existential crisis and increasing hopelessness, and the central protagonists were what one might club as ‘losers’; yet, strangely, it was also among Aki’s most uplifting works on account of the compassionate portrayals and the understated optimism. Ilona (Kati Outinen), the head waitress at a restaurant, and Lauri (Kari Väänänen), a tram driver, are a taciturn but happily married couple. Misfortune strikes, however, when both find themselves without work. With the possibility of a new job reducing by the day, most of their belongings mortgaged, and their little savings fast dwindling, they find themselves in an impossibly fix. Things get worse when Ilona gets a job at a shady joint and Lauri gets badly beaten up for trying to in the process. Her attempts to start a restaurant of her own, too, ends in disappointment as there’s no one to back her up in front of the bank, and they lose their last cent by trying to gamble out of their troubles. However, when she serendipitously runs into her former boss (Elina Salo), we finally see a ray of hope. Dedicated to the memory of Matti Pellonpää who died a year earlier, nicely enacted, filled with deadpan humour and a fine soundtrack, this was a film on urban financial adversities and its social implications, as well as a melancholic look at how one needs to move with changing times in order to remain relevant.

Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Genre: Comedy Drama/Black Comedy/Marital Drama
Language: Finnish
Country: Finland

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