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Lights in the Dusk
Lights in the Dusk
Actors: Ilkka Koivula, Janne Hyytiäinen, Maria Järvenhelmi, Maria Heiskanen
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2007     1hr 20min

LIGHTS IN THE DUSK concludes the trilogy began by DRIFTING CLOUDS and THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST. Where the trilogy's first film was about unemployment and the second about homelessness, this final installment is about lonelin...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Ilkka Koivula, Janne Hyytiäinen, Maria Järvenhelmi, Maria Heiskanen
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/16/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 20min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Ultimate Seduction
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 10/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Lights in the Dusk"

Ultimate Seduction

Amos Lassen

Aki Kaurismaki is a genius and this can easily be seen in the third film of his comic deadpan trilogy, "Lights in the Dusk". Here is the story of a handsome but lonely watchman who becomes entranced and seduced by a femme fatale who takes him down the path of crime and punishment. The film is aglow with sensibility and comedy as we look at the lives of dreamers, especially those who have fallen under a vixen's spell. The trilogy includes "Drifting Clouds" (1996) and "The Man without a Past" (2002) and now "Lights in the Dusk". All three films are cynical but "Lights" is by far the most cynical of the three.
A lonely security guard who is ignored by his coworkers has his life turned upside down by a woman, the ultimate tempest, and the results are deadpan humor. He is an outcast with no friends or family and he is somewhat dumb witted. He will do anything for a woman who shows interest in him. He is naïve and innocent and when he is duped by a beautiful blonde and set up in a robbery that he does not commit. His life is injustice after injustice.
The film is a comment on the descent of an individual which is the result of a an unequal society with an obviously faulty criminal system that punishes the innocent by putting a band-aid on symptoms of social ills such as the effects of imprisonment. The clerk's life is ruined while the real criminals manage to get away with whatever they can. Hard work reaps no reward. Kaurismaki gives us a wonderfully and full bittersweet look at the existential angst of life at the bottom. It looks at an extreme Darwinian world where life is hard and short. At the end, there is a ray of light in which we see humans who care for each other but like the reality of the world, we see that it is possible to die before good happens. The hero is inarticulate and it is almost impossible to determine whether it is because of depression or dictated by a moral stance over which he has no control. Koistinen, the clerk and night watchman, refuses to identify the woman who set him up even when the result is that he will pay the price for the crime. Simultaneously he is blind to the love that the honest manager of the place where he works feels for him. We see Finnish society from the point of view of poverty as well as from the angle of obscene ostentatious wealth. Rather than stand up and defend himself, he sets himself apart from society over and over again. He is incapable of reacting and is powerless against the society that has rejected him. We get a picture of a dreamlike world that too closely resembles the world of reality.
This is an absolutely wonderful movie and never disappoints. Even though it frustrates, it is one of those movies that must be seen. The ending is amazing and leaves you with plenty to think about.
"
Concluding Entry of Kaurismaki's "Loser Trilogy"
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 08/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Lights in the Dusk" ("Laitakaupungin valot"), the final entry in Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's "loser trilogy" (after "Drifting Clouds" and "The Man without a Past") is, in a nutshell, about one of the loneliest men in the movie history. The film may not be as impressive as other two installments (partly because of the absence of his muse Kati Outinen who shows up as cameo here), but Kaurismaki's quaint minimalist narrative style and his life-affirming attitude is unmistakable in his newest film with an undertone of old Hollywood noir and one Charles Chaplin film which has a similar title.

Kostinen (Janne Hyytiäinen) is a middle-aged night watch man at a shopping center in Helsinki. Silent and aloof, he is not a happy man, disliked, and perhaps mistreated, by his superiors and co-workers. Well, but Kostinen, whose loneliness reminds us of the characters in Dostoyevsky novels, anyway dislikes them too. The only time he shows his emotions after routine work is a brief moment when he drops in a kiosk and chats with the lady named Aila (Maria Heiskanen) there. His lonely life seems never to change forever until one day he is suddenly approached by a woman named Mirja (Maria Järvenhelmi) in a café, who asks him for a date and is eager to know things about his jobs as security guard.

There is nothing surprising about this "femme fatale" and the mobsters in black suit behind her. You already know the true motive of the woman, whose appearance virtually causes the subsequent downward spiral of Kostinen's fate. There is someone who is offering a help though, and that person is there just one step away from him, but Kostinen is the last person to realize that.

The brief plot summery might lead you to think that "Lights in the Duck" is a depressing tragedy, but the simple fact is Kaurismaki's film is a well-made serio-comic film with minimalist storytelling and wry humor. No other director would create a femme fatale with a very impassive (and curiously droll) face trying to seduce this guy having a lunch, or quietly vacuuming the mobsters' room.

Even by the standard of Kaurismaki, however, Kostinen as the protagonist is distant, harder to relate than those in "Drifting Clouds" and "The Man without a Past." We feel sympathy for him, but unlike the hapless protagonists in the two previous films of the trilogy, some of Kostinen's actions are results of his choice, which is not fully explained by acting. Sometimes facial expressions of the characters or actors in Kaurismaki films are described as "dead-pan," but the fact is that they show subtle nuances according to the scenes. Kati Outinen and Markku Peltola did show that subtlety in "The Man without a Past" which I couldn't find much in the relations between Kostinen and other ladies.

Still "Lights in the Dusk" is a fitting entry to conclude the trilogy with Kaurismaki's inimitable touch and beautiful photography by Timo Salminen. Loneliness is often seen as the theme of film, but loneliness, but it is seldom expressed in this explicit way, especially when it is accompanied by unexpected hope."
Strange but compelling film
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 09/07/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"***1/2

Clocking in at a pithy one-hour-and-fourteen minutes, "Lights in the Dusk" is an existentialist Finnish comedy in which a mild-mannered night watchman, who seems to be living in a world of his own, becomes an unwitting patsy in a jewelry-store robbery when he opens up to a woman who has seemingly taken a romantic interest in him.

As the much put-upon working man who allows a femme fatale to trick him into doing her dirty work for her, Janne Hyytiaien gives a marvelously deadpanned performance that perfectly reflects the spare, archly humorous world director Aki Kaurismaki has created for the film. With a tone of cool detachment, the script rarely lets us into the mind of this strangely uncommunicative and inscrutable young man, whose emotions and thoughts are always buried somewhere deep beneath an expressionless surface. Yet, somehow, despite his reticence, he still manages to pique our interest and engage our sympathy, primarily because his predicament and his lack of a conventional reaction to it are both so comically unsettling. We find ourselves identifying and rooting for him even though we don't really get to know all that much about him. In a way, he reminds us a bit of Meursault from Camus` "The Stranger," a man so emotionally detached from the world around him that his actions aren't always explicable to those of us who are residing in the "real world" watching him perform them.

Though it is a difficult film to pigeonhole, "Lights in the Dusk" is a modest, unassuming work that touches both the heart and the funny bone in roughly equal measure."