7.6/10
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16 user 22 critic

Shadows in Paradise (1986)

Varjoja paratiisissa (original title)
An episode in the life of Nikander, a garbage man, involving the death of a coworker, a love affair and much more.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Nikander
...
Sakari Kuosmanen ...
Esko Nikkari ...
Co-worker (työkaveri)
Kylli Köngäs ...
Ilona's Girlfriend (ystävätär)
Pekka Laiho ...
Shop Steward (myymälänhoitaja)
Jukka-Pekka Palo ...
Third Man (kolmasmies)
Svante Korkiakoski ...
Police (poliisi)
Mari Rantasila ...
Nikander's Sister (Nikanderin sisar)
Safka Pekkonen ...
Pianist (pianisti) (as Safka)
Antti Ortamo ...
2nd pianist (pianisti II)
Mato Valtonen ...
Pelle (as Markku Valtonen)
Sakke Järvenpää ...
Staffan (as Sakari Järvenpää)
Ulla Kuosmanen ...
Melartin's wife (Melartinin vaimo)
Neka Haapanen ...
Cook (kokki)
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Storyline

Only connect. In gray, class-conscious Helsinki, Nikander is a stoic, solitary garbage man. Cigarettes, coffee, bingo games, and English lessons border his circumscribed life. There are few words, no smiles, and no laughter. Violence and the threat of violence seem close at hand. Ilona, a supermarket clerk who frequently loses her job, bandages Nikander's hand one evening; later he gets her out of a jam, and they begin an on-again off-again relationship. "Why do I keep losing?," Nikander asks his co-worker, Melartin, a man Nikander met in jail and helped get a job. Can he break his losing streak? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

17 October 1986 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Shadows in Paradise  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Towards the end, there's a scene where Nikander's friend talks about a problematic fellow worker named Mikkonen. Matti Pellonpää, who plays Nikander here, would later play Mikkonen in Ariel (1988), the second part of the Proletariat trilogy directed by Aki Kaurismäki. See more »

Goofs

When Nikander and Ilona leave the gas station and ride down the road, they pass a white car. The white car is standing still in the middle of the road. Presumably they drove so fast that they passed the white car, but it stands still. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Nikander: Friday!
Co-worker: [co-worker is offering Nikander a drink] You want?
Nikander: I'm driving.
Co-worker: Listen, Nikander. We've been a team quite a while. But I've been doing this for 25 years. I'm getting tired and so is my heart.
Nikander: What's the matter with it?
Co-worker: What ever.
Co-worker: I've got an idea - my own company. Five trucks to start with...
Nikander: What does it end?
Co-worker: The sky is the limit. The state and the banks will back us. I know everything about this game, but I'm not going to die behind the wheel.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Matka suomalaiseen elokuvaan: Kaupunkiblues (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Herbstlaub
Written by Klaus Treuheit
Performed by Klaus Treuheit
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A beautiful example of minimalism.
22 September 2006 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

After a stunning debut, Crime and Punishment, and a bizarre, experimental second feature, Calamari Union, Aki Kaurismäki began doing what he's best at: telling the stories of Finnish underdogs'everyday experiences. And it all started with Shadows in Paradise, the first installment of the "workers trilogy" (continued with Ariel and The Match Factory Girl), and arguably Kaurismäki's finest film (at least until he made The Man Without a Past). It also marked his first collaboration with Kati Outinen, who has become the very symbol, alongside the late Matti Pellonpää, of Kaurismäki's cinema.

Fittingly, Pellonpää and Outinen are the leading couple of shadows in Paradise. He reprises the role of Nikander he previously played in Crime and Punishment, with more English lessons (which originate his best line, at the end of the film) and trouble at work: his plans to start his own business get buried with his associate (Esko Nikkari), who commits suicide five minutes into the movie. While looking for a new job, he meets Ilona (Outinen), who works as a cashier in a Helsinki supermarket. The two start hanging out, eventually forming a sweet, if platonic, bond, occasionally threatened by Nikander's apparent cynicism.

The film's magic resides entirely in its minimalism: little dialogue, sober settings, raw, Finnish humor, real, likable characters and no overacting, as Kaurismäki tells his simple, universal, incredibly touching love story. Pellonpää and Outinen's understated, affecting performances complete each other, with valuable support from Sakari Kuosmanen as Melartin, Nikander's best friend, who even steals from his own daughter to finance his buddy's dates. Not that his behavior is exemplary, but it shows how much these people care for each other, and that's where Kaurismäki succeeds: he makes us emphasize with these characters despite their many flaws, and delivers an astounding, memorable picture.

A true masterpiece of Finnish film-making, from the best director that country has ever spawned.


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