Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Laitakaupungin valot
Finland/Germany/France, 2006. Sputnik. Screenplay by Aki Kaurismaki. Cinematography by Timo Salminen. Produced by Aki Kaurismaki. Music by Melrose. Production Design by Markku Pätilä. Costume Design by Outi Harjupatana. Film Editing by Aki Kaurismaki. Cannes Film Festival 2006. European Film Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Aki Kaurismaki goes for film noir in this gorgeously shot piece, played in a minor key. A shopping mall security guard falls for a gorgeous, mysterious blond and leaves behind the faithful girl at the snack bar with whom he has been having a muted romance. The blond is actually working for some shady guys who will use our hero to take the fall for a robbery, which they pull off and get the man into some very unfortunate trouble. He figures out that he is the victim of their trickery but, obsessed as he with this stony-faced siren, prefers to let himself be used, while she begins to have moral doubts about her part in this shady game. It’s a good film without a deep effect, shot like all of Kaurismaki’s films like a quirky fairy tale, and while the complacency with which the protagonist accepts his fate gives it the flavor of passive charm that the great director’s films usually possess, it also robs it of an effective third act. The ending falls like a thud, but until you get there the images are dazzling and the personalities all very appealing.