Lights in the Dusk (2006) (Finland / Germany / France)

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Lights in the Dusk (2006) (Finland / Germany / France)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:23 pm

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.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated PG.

Re: Lights in the Dusk (2006) (Finland / Germany / France)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:24 pm


*a 2007 (U.S.) Release*

Unemployment, homelessness, loneliness -- abstract entities that could be regarded as being reticular since one often stems from another before itself acting as a modifier, thus forming a network of hopelessness and despair. While most of Aki Kaurismkis work grounds itself with such thematic concerns, his so-called Finnish/loser trilogy has been successful in advancing the issues to the forefront -- individually, that is. The first installment of the trilogy, Drifting Clouds (1996), dealt with unemployment, the second, The Man Without a Past (2002), portrayed homelessness. In Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot), the darkest, minimalist, and arguably the best of the three, the emphasis is placed on solitude.

Koistinen (Janne Hyytiinen) is a lonely security guard who works the night shift at a high-end shopping mall in Helsinki. His bosses do not care to remember his name; his co-workers do their best to avoid him. Koistinen literally feels out of place anywhere he goes. His only friend in this disconnected, postmodern milieu appears to be a woman (Maria Heiskanen) who runs the fast-food van near his residence. Ostensibly resigned to lifes disparities, our hapless, hangdog protagonist nonetheless retains hope that he will be able to start his own business some day. And that desire remains even after he gets set up by a beautiful blonde (Maria Jrvenhelmi) and her crooked, granite-faced boss with mobster ties and ends up in the pen.

Lights in the Dusk may be the most overt film noir Kaurismki has attempted since 1990s I Hired a Contract Killer, but its a meticulously refined, stripped-down version of one. (The proceedings unfold with an almost Bressonian austerity.) The Finnish filmmakers trademark deadpan humor is also only sparingly employed (a highlight: How was [prison], Koistinen is once asked, We couldnt get out... All doors were locked -- Bang!). Conceptual influences and visual references abound (All About Eve [1950], Melville, Edward Hopper), and inundated with an eclectic soundtrack (Finnish tango, Gardels Volver, garage rock), another Kaurismki specialty, this reticent yet moving 78-minute effort proves the old adage that its always great to be in the company of an auteur, even when you know whats coming.

Grade: A-

*The film had its international premeire at Cannes '06 (in-competition).

*Now available on DVD in the U.S. (Strand Releasing) / U.K. (Artificial-Eye).

*Related: Aki Kaurismki THREAD.

[Edit]: Grade (2nd viewing)

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