Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Finland, 1999. Sputnik. Screenplay by Aki Kaurismaki, based on the novel by Juhani Aho. Cinematography by Timo Salminen. Produced by Aki Kaurismaki. Music by Anssi Tikanmäki. Production Design by Markku Pätilä. Costume Design by Marja-Leena Hukkanen. Film Editing by Aki Kaurismaki.
Aki Kaurismaki films a Postman Always Rings Twice-type story in the vein of a Dreyer silent in this richly enjoyable melodrama. His favourite leading lady Kati Outinen plays the wife of a hulking mechanic who is wowed by a visiting urban gentleman (André Wilms) when his car breaks down and he shows up in need of service. Wilms seduces Outinen by praising her beauty, but when she leaves her husband to go to the big city to be with him, she is trapped in a brothel and forced to prostitute herself while Wilms enjoys the high life with other women. Few intertitles are used, the action focusing on the bountiful musical score and the actors’ expressive faces, particularly Outinen’s perpetually haunted eyes ; it’s gorgeously photographed and features the brittle humour and hesitant performance style that make Kaurismaki’s films so indelible.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1999