7.5/10
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19 user 22 critic

Shadows in Paradise (1986)

Varjoja paratiisissa (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 17 October 1986 (Finland)
An episode in the life of Nikander, a garbage man, involving the death of a coworker, a love affair and much more.

Director:

Aki Kaurismäki

Writer:

Aki Kaurismäki
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Cast

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

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Finland

Language:

Finnish | Swedish | English

Release Date:

17 October 1986 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Shadows in Paradise See more »

Filming Locations:

Eteläsatama, Helsinki, Finland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The garbage truck in final scenes in harbor is branded "Bedford". "Bedford" was a British truck manufacturer. It became obsolete some years after filming. 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

Salattu suru (My Heart Must Do the Crying)
Composed by The Renegades
Lyrics by Kim Brown
Finnish lyrics by Kari Tuomisaari
Arranged by Esa Pulliainen
Performed by Topi Sorsakoski and Agents
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Early Kaurismäki and one of the most idiosyncratic romantic comedies of all time
6 September 2018 | by crculverSee all my reviews

Released in 1986, Aki Kaurismaki's VARJOJA PARATIISISSA (Shadows in Paradise) is one of the Finnish filmmaker's earliest efforts, and it stands as one of the most idiosyncratic romantic comedies of all time. The painfully shy Nikander (Matti Pellonpää), a garbage man, means the moody Ilona, a supermarket checkout girl. The film tracks their bumbling attempt to establish a lasting relationship: dates that end as soon as they've begun, a romantic getaway where they each retreat to separate hotel rooms, and rare conversations which employ the absolute bare minimum of words. Nikander's best and only friend Melartin (Sakari Kuosmanen), whom the garbage man only recently met through a spell in jail, gives some needed encouragement.

The film's soundtrack is rooted in early rock-and-roll, though unlike later Kaurismaki films where the characters seem to be living in a 1950s bubble, all the action takes place in contemporary Helsinki. I've criticized Kaurismaki's vision of Finland in other films, but VARJOJA PARATIISISSA does, in my opinion, accurately depict the collection of gloomy, taciturn binge drinkers that are the Finns.

VARJOJA PARATIISISSA is an early work and doesn't show the confidence of later efforts, but it's still quite entertaining, its leads and their struggles extremely charming, and I would recommend the film. Certainly the performances of Pellonpää (in a typical Pellonpää role) and Outinen (who seemingly reinvents herself in every film) will prove quite memorable.


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