Not to sound too self-deprecating, but going to Cannes will invariably make you feel acutely self-conscious of how much you don't know about world cinema. Case in point: A friend who knew about my heading to this year's festival said "Oh, exciting -- you get to see the new Kaurismäki ... " and I sort of agreed, trying to conceal my ignorance with reflected enthusiasm. A brief bit of research brought Aki Kaurismäki's resume back to the forefront of my brain -- a Finnish writer-director, he's perhaps best known for the 1989 comedy Leningrad Cowboys Go America. Playing as part of the official competition selection here in Cannes, Kaurismäki's Lights in the Dusk wound up being a surprising highlight -- a perfectly-pitched deadpan existential comedy shot with style and meticulous timing, helped along by performances from actors perfectly in tune with the sensibilities of the material.

Koistinen (Janne Hyytiäien) works as a security guard; he walks his route clad in his uniform, making sure the city's supermarkets and streets are safe, a stoic face peering into the night. Koistinen seems like an odd man out; his supervisors harass him, and his co-workers leave en masse after work for a drink without inviting him. Koistinen's face tells you he's been through this before; he expects it. One night, a beautiful woman named Mirja (Maria Järvenhelmi) approaches him and asks him out; they have an evening together, and although his face doesn't show it (indeed, his face rarely shows anything) Koistinen can't believe his good fortune. ...
categories Cinematical