Koistinen is a security man who becomes a victim of a femme fatale and of a gang. They leave him alone to face the consequences of his loyalty. A poignant reminder of the lot of the emotional ‘have-nots’ in our world that glows with genuine warmth and a small but enriching glimmer of hope.
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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.
There are some weird transitions that defy logical beats, but all in all, there are so many brilliantly funny moments I can't help but praise this film to the fullest. "It's too crowded in here, let's talk in my car." She says in an empty restaurant. Characters speaking to each other without looking at one another. Kaurismaki is a genius, and "Lights in the Dusk" is up there just below "Man without a Past."
Watching LITD for the first time a decade after its release, I realized a) that Kaurismaki must be the main inspiration for the directors of the Greek New Wave (e.g. Yorgos Lanthimos and Athina Rachel Tsangari) and b) the laughter of the protagonist in the prison's yard completely destroyed the fictional coherence of the film.
The music and minimalist aesthetic are exceptional, but the deadpan acting was hit-or-miss. At times the "non-acting" added depth to the characters, and at times I felt bored with the repetition of drollery. The femme fatale Mirja, played by Maria Järvenhelmi, reminded me of Kim Novak's character in Vertigo.