8 August 2008 | Maito
A Worthwhile Effort by Mika Kaurismäki...
Helsinki-Napoli All Night Long A Worthwhile Effort by Mika Kaurismäki..., 8 August 2008 Alex is a Finnish cab driver living in Berlin with his wife Stella (originally from Naples), their two kids and Stella's Father. One night two French thugs with a briefcase full of stolen money hire Alex as their driver for the whole night. Unfortunately they're being chased by gangsters whose money was stolen. A few dead bodies, kidnapping and extortion follows.
Helsinki Napoli All Night Long is the 6th feature by director Mika Kaurismäki the brother of the somewhat famous Aki Kaurismäki and his first of one shot entirely abroad. Most of Mika's subsequent films would be international productions that achieved moderate success, but none at the level of Aki's films.
The film is successfully scripted by Kaurismäki and Richard Reitinger (one of the writers of Wings of Desire). This is a fun, light MacGuffin chase filled with witty Kaurismäki-style dialog and a similar structure as Scorsese's After Hours. Nothing revolutionary, but thoroughly entertaining. The aesthetic feel is another strong point. Shooting at nights for budgetary reasons, gives this the look of a neo-noir.
The cast has surprisingly well-known figures. Directors Jim Jarmusch, Sam Fuller, Wim Wenders and actors Eddie Constantine (Alphaville) and Sakari Kuosmanen (The Man Without a Past) all do cameos and Italian veteran Nino Manfredi (We All Loved Each Other So Much) plays Stella's father. Kari Väänänen is a little wooden in the lead, but apart from that every actor gives a solid, charismatic, performance.
Helsinki Napoli All Night Long is, alongside Rosso, a perfect introduction to Mika Kaurismäki. It's not his best films (that would be The Worthless), but it's definitely among his better ones and due to the international aspects (the film is mostly in English, with occasional Italian) it should be accessible to foreign audiences.
If you want a fun international crime comedy and to explore Finnish directors this film will be worth checking out.