Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin Valot) (2006)
Directed by Aki Kaurismki
Starring Janne Hyytiinen, Maria Jrvenhelmi
Kaurismki goes film noir!
Lights in the Dusk tells the tale of a simple, lonely and instantly forgettable security guard, 'Koistinen' (Janne Hyytiinen) and the blonde beauty who enters his aimless life. What he fails to realise is that in film noir style, hes about to become the patsy for a robbery and the girl is there to set him up.
Koistinen appears to sleep walk through his duties (and indeed, his whole life) wearing a continuously concerned yet vacant expression. Even when beaten up by several thugs, he just wipes the blood off and carries on as normal, he has aims and dreams but seems to have accepted that these like everything else in his life will come to nought. Even when Mirja (Maria Jrvenhelmi) suddenly enters his life, nothing about his character changes, if anything he appears to be totally at a loss as to what to say or do with her. He accepts everything that is thrown at him, deceit, betrayal and incrimination without batting an eyelid, an empty soul not quite devoid of life but seemingly incapable of living.
Unlike the majority of film noirs but typical of the few Kaurismki films Ive seen, everything is underplayed. No matter how desperate things get, there are no overt dramatics, no sudden changes in character and thats what actually makes the storyline more touching, more tragic and if anything, more realistic.
Its a film that has a few humorous touches, Koistinen taking his new found love to a rock concert is a great example, but overall there is an air of despair to it. True love and friendship are ignored only to be replaced by the false promises of his rather strange femme fatale.
I enjoyed Lights in the Dusk tremendously and went straight from seeing this to watching Royston Tans 4.30, which totally surprised me with its artistry and subtlety in comparison to his earlier films. It ended up as one of those very rare, truly engrossing evenings at the cinema.
BBFC rated PG.