15 January 2007 | peter-byrne
Kaurismaki goes Kafka and fluffs the laugh cues.
Aki Kaurismaki has an instinctive knack of laying down a story. He also presents the interest of being on the margins of life in a marginal country. Think of "Hamlet Goes Business". But in "Lights in the Dusk", Kaurismaki goes Kafka. He leans toward the fable, a genre hard to make into a decent movie. This one follows an honest loser to disaster. The character only manages to crawl out of the pit at the last minute by finally accepting partnership with another, more cautious loser. Visually splendid the film shows us Helsinki in all its modern, hard-edged, hostility, and together with the acting has a flawless unity of style. A.K.'s quirky humor is much less in evidence than usual though you might call a joke the fact that the loser's life in jail is roughly like his existence before he goes inside and after he comes out. Indeed the only time we see him socially at ease and smiling is in the prison yard when spring comes to Helsinki.