How is Aki both applauded realist and eminent stylist? Clouds would be a good piece to interrogate, and though he deals in the shorthand of arthouse misery material his work is never burdened by the "issues". Above all his proletarian heart cries for labour as an empowering and necessary right, even if its ends are small. 3.5
A frank look at a middle-class couple dealing with financial precarity. While sad, it deftly avoids the miserabilism inherent to its premise through sober hopefulness and a direction ripe with affection for the stone faced characters. Kaurismaki is a master regarding the use of lighting, color, composition and visual pace as ways to guide our emotional understanding of the people within his cinema.
You get no easy emotions from Aki Kaurismaki, when his characters are down they are stone face, when they are happy there is nary a smile, when they are sad hardly a tear. But he loves his characters, and it's hard not to love his mise-en-scene, which fills drab frames with color and deadpan humor. This mid-90's effort is one of the clearest examples of his unique style, and it goes down smooth.