Movie: Shadows of Paradise (Finnish)
Cast: Matti Pellonpää, Kati Outinen, Sakari Kuosmanen
Meet Nikander, an ex-butcher/garbage truck driver, who lives a monotonous life with a daily routine he never breaks. A chance to alter his life comes from a suggestion by his co-worker who tells him that he wishes to start his own company (garbage disposal, of course) and wishes Nikander to join him.
Director Aki Kaurismäki's subtle humour comes across from the moment we set eyes on our very unlikely hero. And also some of the dialogues have the audience trying to stifle their laughter. For instance, Nikander's co-worker has already planned the tagline of his own company — “Serving you since 1986”, but as Nikander points out to him, it IS 1986. “That's why it will catch the people's attention,” replies his co-worker. Can't beat that logic!
However, any hope that he could change his life is lost when his partner dies of a heart-attack. After a brief episode of drinking and causing havoc in a bar, Nikander wakes up the next morning in a prison.
The only other person there is Melartin who tosses Nikander a pack of cigarettes. By the end of their short stay at the “friendly neighbourhood prison”, Melartin is offered the job of Nikander's late partner. Life goes on.
Nikander meets Illona at the supermarket and they are mutually attracted to each other. Nikander is an absolute gentleman with her. She has problems too (they ALL have a smoking problem).
Illona gets laid off work at the supermarket and then takes a ride with Nikander. She seems to find a sense of stability with Nikander and he finds in Illona a reason to exist. With subtle wit and dark humour, and minimal dialogues the relationship between Nikander and Illona unfolds before our eyes.
Aki Kaurismaki's proletariat trilogy gets off to a promising start. In next instalment, “Drifting Clouds” we see the married couple and their struggle to make ends meet. But in both we notice the silent dignity of their lives lived quietly. They understand each other and so do we without the need for too many words.
SNEHA SURESH, M.A., Stella Maris College
Keywords: Shadows of Paradise