Laitakaupungin valot (Lights in the Dusk)

lights-in-the-dusk

Lights in the Dusk (Finnish: Laitakaupungin valot) is a 2006 Finnish comedy-drama film starring Janne Hyytiäinen, Ilkka Koivula, and Maria Järvenhelmi. It is the last installment in Kaurismäki’s “Finland” trilogy after Drifting Clouds (1996) and The Man Without a Past (2002).  Koistinen (Janne Hyytiäinen) is a lonely security guard who is ignored by his co-workers; that is, when he’s not being teased by them. He attempts to socialize, but is treated coldly by his manager. His life is soon turned upside down by a femme fatale (Maria Järvenhelmi),with heartbreaking results. Koistinen’s only human contact is the vendor Aila (Maria Heiskanen) to whom he outlines his plans of starting his own company. This nobody suggests a contemporary version of Chaplin’s Little Tramp. Koistinen accepts the cruelties dished out by life with reticence  almost as if they were his due. On the rare occasions that he ineptly lashes back, he is immediately slapped down, and several times he is beaten up. The music of “Laitakaupungin valot” deserves a special mention, since with it the aesthetic style of Kaurismäki really flowers. There is a plenty of Kaurismäki’s trade-mark dry humor at the beginning of the movie, especially at the coffee shop scene, but when the film goes on its comedic currents almost totally vanish and the dramatic values take over. Another notable feature of this work is its exceptional amount of smoking  (even for Kaurismäki), which is possibly caused by the director’s own agenda of opposing the ban of smoking in restaurants.  Kaurismäki’s sequences of scenes are as bold and assured as they are ironic. This is a pessimistic, but curiously vibrant view of life.

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