Finnish Cinema

Drifting Clouds, 1996

An early episode in Drifting Clouds encapsulates the wry, droll, yet affectionate fusion of pathos and comedy that has come to define Aki Kaurismäki’s idiosyncratic cinema. A diligent and conscientious maître d’ named Ilona (Kati Outinen) attends to the dwindling, aging clientele of a once popular, upscale postwar restaurant called Dubrovnik, before being summoned into… read more »

The Match Factory Girl, 1989

Amid the mechanical din of the automated assembly line is the quiet despair of a lost soul. Her name is Iris (Kati Outinen), a dour, impassive young woman who oversees the labeling of matchbox packages. She performs her task with silent, methodical precision: removing duplicates, moistening unaffixed labels, tamping down curled edges. Riding home on… read more »

Ariel, 1988

Taisto (Turo Pajala) is the archetypal Kaurismäki anti-hero. His unkempt, impassive demeanor serves as a disarming, impenetrable defense mechanism against the seeming absurdity of his hapless life. The film opens to the activity of a mine shutdown, as Taisto and his coworkers resignedly look on as the explosives are detonated. A disillusioned friend gives Taisto… read more »

Hamlet Goes Business, 1987

In the highly competitive corporate environment of modern-day Denmark, Hamlet (Pirkka-Pekka Petelius) is the heir to his father’s (Pentti Auer) majority stake in the family’s diversified commercial enterprise. His father’s business partner and senior board member, Klaus (Esko Salminen), is negotiating a delicate, multilayered transaction with rival companies to sell off less profitable ventures in… read more »

Shadows in Paradise, 1986

Every morning at the break of dawn, Nikander (Matti Pellonpää) and his co-worker (Esko Nikkari) conduct their silent ritual by making their way through a maze of trucks parked in the depot of a waste management company, picking up their daily itinerary, settling into their assigned vehicle, driving to their designated industrial areas to collect… read more »

The Way You Wanted Me, 1944

In a pivotal encounter in Teuvo Tulio’s Song of the Scarlet Flower, a lovesick Olavi seeks solace in a brothel and instead finds himself confronting past transgressions when his abandoned lover Elli, now working as a prostitute, challenges him to follow through on his empty promises of marriage by arguing that, in her provocative dress… read more »

Song of the Scarlet Flower, 1938

The recurring imagery of turbulent waters in Teuvo Tulio’s films reflect a kinship with early Norwegian (and more broadly, Scandinavian) cinema in the use of rugged landscape as a metaphor for the paradoxical nature of the human condition. In Tulio’s Song of the Scarlet Flower, a daredevil log ride through the swift currents of a… read more »