Lights in the Dusk concludes Kaurismäki’s Finland Trilogy after Drifting Clouds and The Man Without a Past". Koistinen (Janne Hyytiäinen) is a security man who becomes a victim of a femme fatale and of a gang: taking advantage of his longing for love and of his loyalty, they pull off a robbery, leaving him alone to face the consequences. Thus Koistinen is deprived of his job, his freedom, and his dreams. A poignant reminder of the lot of the emotional ‘have-nots’ in our world, this film glows with genuine warmth and a small but enriching glimmer of hope.
Aki Kaurismäki did a wide variety of jobs including postman, dish-washer and film critic, before forming a production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. Both Aki and Mika are prolific film-makers, and together have been responsible for one-fifth of the total output of the Finnish film industry since the early 1980s, though Aki’s work has found more favour abroad. His films are very short (he says a film should never run longer than 90 minutes, and many of his films are nearer 70), eccentric parodies of various genres (road movies, film noir, rock musicals), populated by lugubrious hard-drinking Finns and set to eclectic soundtracks, typically based around ‘50s rock’n’roll.
In the 1990s he has made films in Britain (I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)) and France (La vie de bohème (1992)). —IMDb
Kaurismäki’s capitalism: where alienation breeds exploitation, breeding ruin, and where light - unlike The Man Without a Past - is only ever temporary. Even as one of his comic distillations, the deadpan in this cumulative hodgepodge of crime and punishment is hopelessly dour - as a narrative, it’s pitiful, if not simply noxious, to cling onto (just as well, his most fleeting); as trilogy’s conclusion, the prognosis is indeed bleak. Rock and roll?
After two decades of work, his minimalist style is at his best with this, economic in image and story yet also vivid and rich in detail. The deadpan nature of Kaurismäki’s work is here, but it’s matched by a heartfelt and extremely melancholic story which touched me. It’s difficult to explain why I loved this as much as I did, but it was cinema at its most rewarding and beautiful.