M arrives in Helsinki only to be viciously attacked by thugs and pronounced dead by medics. He revives but with no memory of his past or his identity. He rebuilds his life from scratch, but the past inevitably catches up with him.
Lugubrious Finns Valto and Reino take to the road in search of coffee and vodka, without which their lives are not worth living. But their reveries are interrupted by the arrival of ... See full summary »
After fifteen years' service, Henri Boulanger is made redundant from his job. Shocked, he attempts suicide, but can't go through with it, so he hires a contract killer in a seedy bar to ... See full summary »
Koistinen is a sad sack, a man without affect or friends. He's a night-watchman in Helsinki with ideas of starting his own business, but nothing to go with those intentions. He sometimes talks a bit with a woman who runs a snack trailer near his work. Out of the blue, a young sophisticated blonde woman attaches herself to Koistinen. He thinks of her as his girlfriend, he takes her on her rounds. She's in league with a crook who's planning a jewel robbery, and Koistinen is their patsy. Will he ever wise up?Written by
Suomen Filmikamari, which selects the Finnish candidate for Academy Awards Best Foreign-Language Picture, had already chosen Laitakaupungin valot in September 2006, but in October 2006 Aki Kaurismäki informed them that he did not want his film considered for that competition. This also meant that there was no Finnish entry in the Academy Awards pre-selection. See more »
[Worried that Koistinen will squeal]
He'll talk. He'll tell them about me.
Koistinen will never betray you. He's loyal as a dog, a sentimental fool. My genius lies in understanding that.
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When you find a formula that works, you often stick to it even to the point of spinning your wheels until you become something of either an establishment or a cliché. Director Aki Kaurismaki may do well to bare this in mind before embarking on his next languid look at sad-faced Finns moving in somnambulistic circles through the streets of Helsinki.
Perhaps considering JUHA and MAN WITHOUT A PAST too fast-paced, Kaurismaki slows down the action in LIGHTS IN THE DARK to a snail's pace.
Despite making me wonder if Kaurismaki is playing it safe by recycling the same ideas, his films are often like comfort food and it would take a lot to make me sick of macaroni and cheese. Rather than keeping on the safe ground, Kaurismaki could follow in the footsteps of his friend and fellow minimalist auteur Jim Jarmusch and make Finnish equivalents of GHOST DOG or DEAD MAN. On second thought, keep with what you're doing, Aki.
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