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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

VARJOJA PARATIISISSA / SHADOWS IN PARADISE (1986)

Everyone's favorite Finnish auteur, Ari Kaurismaki, found his voice in this modest, but intensely pleasurable modern fable. It’s a typically mordant romance between a garbage man (in blue) and a supermarket cashier (in red) who’ve had more than their fair share of knocks. Expectations are low, but over the course of a bumpy courtship, their relative strengths and compatibilities keep rising to the surface. As the couple, Matti Pellonpaa & Kati Outinen (Kaurismaki regulars and deadpan artists with terrific comic timing) tote reserves of unexpected emotional baggage that flare into fits of resentment at all the wrong times. Kaurismaki gets us involved without the usual narrative tropes, or by tweaking them, and he composes his oddly beautiful shots of backstreets & dingy apartments with a master’s eye. It may be a starter film, without the gasp inducing moments of THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL/’90 or the perfect balance & completeness of THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST/02, but its aim is true.

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