An adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel, set in modern Helsinki. Slaughterhouse worker Rahikainen murders a man, and is forced to live with the consequences of his actions.Written by
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Aki Kaurismäki's narrative directorial debut. He chose this project after reading François Truffaut's interview with Alfred Hitchcock, where Hitchcock claimed Crime and Punishment was the one book he would never adapt, because "it would be to difficult." Kaurismäki later admitted it was too difficult. See more »
Normally, a filmmaker doesn't choose to adapt a literary classic for his first feature, as it might prove to be too hard. Aki Kaurismäki, on the other hand, did an excellent job with his directorial debut, a modern-day version of Dostoyevskji's Crime and Punishment.
At the beginning, we're guided through a slaughterhouse. This is where the protagonist, Antti Rahikainen (Markku Toikka), works. This particular environment suits the film, as it prepares us for its subsequent tone. Rahikainen takes the rest of the day off and breaks into an apartment. Once there, he kills an old man. Unfortunately, there's a witness: Eeva Laakso (Aino Seppo), who however refuses to turn in the murderer, thinking he will himself confess the crime eventually.
Of course, that doesn't happen. Police inspector Pennanen (Esko Nikkari) is dead certain of Rahikainen's role in the story, given there's a motive and all (the victim accidentally killed Rahikainen's fiancée by running her over with a car). But with no evidence and no collaboration from Eeva, there are few chances the killer will be arrested.
Kaurismäki has done a remarkable job on his first film, mostly because he nails the mood: he shows us the murkiest sides of Helsinki, and almost everyone depicted in the movie is cold and unemotional, a factor which adds to the unsettling nature of the story. There's little room for humor, with only a few exceptions: Rahikainen's best friend Nikander (Matti Pellonpää), struggling with English lessons, and the straight, serious delivery of some dialogue, most notably the first conversation between Rahikainen and Eeva ("What's wrong with him?" "Nothing. He's dead." "How did he die?" "I killed him.").
An excellent human drama, and also the beginning of a brilliant career. Those interested in Finnish cinema should give this a look.
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