Watching Lights in the Dusk, the latest feature from prolific Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, you could be forgiven for thinking someone has slipped Quaaludes to the entire cast of a 1950s noir film. Everyone moves carefully and very slowly, while the entire city of Helsinki seems to be under a blanket of silence and isolation. Indeed, apart from the film's cast, the city appears to be deserted: There are no passers-by, no irate motorists, and no nosy neighbors. Just the movie's handful of gangsters, along with the social detritus with whom they casually become involved.
The film centers on Koistinen (Janne Hyytiäinen), a man so forgettable that, after three years in his night security job, his supervisor still asks his name when he signs out for the evening. As played by Hyytiäinen, Koistinen is aggressively Keaton-esque, both in his immovable visage and his expression of constant concern -- the worried creases between his eyes never lift. It's as if he's got secret knowledge that, any minute now, something awful will happen. And, after the first few minutes of the film, we understand Koistinen's worldview: He's greeted with instinctive disgust everywhere he goes, even by those who don't know him. Prepared as he is for constant disaster, however, Koistinen greets each new slight with nothing more than a sigh, and his only response is to make himself less conspicuous.