Sunday, April 08, 2007

LIGHTS IN THE DUSK/LAITAKAUPUNGIN VALOT - tragicomedy so deadpan it makes Droopy Dog look energetic

George Costanza: There is no bigger loser than me!Koistinen is a loser. He has no friends, no lover, his co-workers take the piss out of him and he is so evidently a patsy that a cynical bunch of Helsinki thugs set him up for a heist, by way of a femme fatale. The artificial courtship takes up the first half hour of this short tragi-comedy and it is replete with director Aki Kaurismäki's trademark strained conversation, stylised framing and quirky set pieces.

Take the way in which the femme fatale breaks it off with Koistinen. He tentatively places his hand on her shoulder. She removes it. "Are you trying to break up with me?" he asks. "I need to travel. My mother is sick," she replies. "When do you need to leave?" he responds, forlorn. "Immediately." She gets up. Comedy so deadpan it makes Droopy Dog look energetic.

The second half of the movie is heavier work. The audience wills the movie to its obvious pay-off but Koistinen's masochistic passivity feels uncomfortably like sadism on the part of the director, the audience now complicit. Just how much more punishment can we watch? And perhaps the most damning thing I can say about this otherwise charming, though slight, film, is that at 77 minutes it feels around 15 minutes too long.

LIGHTS IN THE DUSK played Cannes, London and Toronto 2006 and was withdrawn by the director from the 2006 Oscar noms. It was released in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greece, France, Poland, Russia, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in 2006. It opened in Estonia, Spain, Italy and Hungary earlier this year. LIGHTS IN THE DUSK is currently on release in the UK and opens in the USA on June 13th 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment