Wednesday 4 December 2013

Lights in the Dusk [2006]

Lights in the Dusk, the final installment in Kaurismaki’s ‘Finland Trilogy’ aka ‘Loser Trilogy’ (a number of his other films too could easily be clubbed with it), was a typically dour, droll and deadpan portrayal of the heartbreak and loneliness, particularly for the working class, in a cold and heartless metropolis. Though filled with decidedly dark tone, bleak plot developments, deadpan humour and bitter ironies that the protagonist is nearly always at the receiving end of, the director’s deep-set humanism and empathy cannot be missed; consequently, like The Man Without A Past, which was the best of the lot, even though this relentlessly tragic film didn’t really end on a happy note, the final shot, through its fleeting indication at hopefulness and optimism, is sure to leave one with a smile. Kostinen (Janne Hyytiäinen) is a lonely and introverted night security-guard at a sprawling shopping complex in Helsinki with an infinite hope for a better future, despite the seemingly inescapable hole he’s stuck in. Consequently when, inexplicably, an attractive blonde lady (Maria Järvenhelmi) approaches him with the offer of love, he gets into it with no questions asked, oblivious of the fact that she’s the moll of a gangster (Ilkka Koivula) and intends to use him and then discard him like an empty cigarette pack. All this while he never realizes that an equally lonely vendor of hot dogs (Maria Heiskanen) might just be holding a flame for him. Though forever at the receiving end of unfairness, Aki managed to strike a delicate balance between pathos and cruelty, with the soft colour palettes and melancholic musical interludes making this wry black comedy quietly affecting.

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

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