Lights in the Dusk

Lights in the Dusk

Lights in the Dusk (Finland/Germany/France, dir­ector Aki Kaurismäki): This is the third film in Kaurismäki’s “Helsinki Trilogy” (the oth­ers are Drifting Clouds (1996) and The Man Without a Past (2002)) While I haven’t seen the first, this film shares many them­atic and formal ele­ments with the second film, and I enjoyed it just as much.

Koistinen is a lonely secur­ity guard who is ignored by his co-work­ers; that is, when he’s not being teased by them. His life is soon turned upside down by a femme fatale, with heart­break­ing res­ults. Despite the grim-sound­ing plot, the film is full of the director’s trade­mark dead­pan humour. And I’m in awe of how he can make the film just radi­ate love des­pite the mannered act­ing and awk­ward sta­ging. Perhaps it has to do with the warmth of the light­ing and the col­our palette, as well as the use of nos­tal­gic music and art dir­ec­tion. Whatever it is, from the first frame, you know the dir­ector loves this sad sack and wants us to love him too.

The films of the Helsinki Trilogy all deal with people on the mar­gins, and it’s clear that Kaurismäki’s sym­path­ies lie with the com­mon people and not with those whose suc­cess or power has dehu­man­ized them. He is a true human­ist, and his “her­oes” all bear their suf­fer­ings stoic­ally; in fact, they quite lit­er­ally per­son­ify a “never-say-die” atti­tude, and that makes them admir­able. Their hang­dog expres­sions may make us pity them, but it’s their core of inner strength that makes us love them.

9/10(9/10)

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