Wednesday 13 February 2013

Ariel [1988]

Ariel, the second chapter in Kaurismaki’s aptly titled “Proletariat Trilogy”, was a shade darker than the previous film, viz. Shadows in Paradise, in terms of the series of misfortunes faced by the protagonist. However, in the end, tonally it was a comparatively lighter film, more so with its whimsical feel, black humour and cosmic irony. Like the protagonist in the earlier film, Taisto (Turo Pajala), a miner, is the most laconic and least expressive man imaginable who accepts his fates without so much as a protest. And, like him, he also oftentimes resorts to impulsive actions clearly at odds with his nature. When the mine he works in suddenly closes down, he takes the car and money gifted to him by a friend who shoots himself soon after, and moves to another town. There he promptly gets robbed of all his money, but also falls for Irmeli (Susanna Haavisto), a single mother. Soon after he is jailed for no fault of his where he befriends his cellmate (Matti Pellonpää), a resourceful criminal planning his escape. Taisto’s life, therefore, is a series of bad and good fortunes, each proceeding the other. Thus, when he finally manages to escape with Irmeli, in a seemingly happy ending reminiscent of the earlier film, we don’t know what waits for him next. The film’s deadpan humour was brilliantly complemented by the droll performances by the cast (with Pellonpää being particularly brilliant in his brief support role), idiosyncratic buildups, and the irreverent look at the gloomy state of the lives of Finland’s blue collar workers and the existential crisis therein. Kaurismaki’s use of music, too, was noteworthy.

Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire
Language: Finnish
Country: Finland

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