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SHADOWS IN PARADISE

Finland, 1986 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

Shadows in Paradise borrows its title from an Erich Maria Remarque novel about wartime refugees. It is an attempt by director Aki Kaurismaki at a realistic love story with scenes taking place in the rear rooms of supermarkets, in bingo halls and garbage trucks.

Kaurismaki has fashioned an ultra subdued comedy love story that moves with a fine narrative rhythm. It is a love story about a pair of losers. The man is a former slaughterman who now drives a garbage truck, and the girl is a supermarket cashier who has been dismissed from her job three times in the last year and each time through no fault of her own By one of those odd twists of fate, the paths of these two have-nots happens to cross, run together and then separate again, their attempts at romance as clumsily handled as the other parts of their lives Both seem unable to cope with anything as imposing as love - intimidated by a world not of their making.

Through this liaison, as the couple confront themselves through each other, a certain dignity, humility and pride becomes apparent. They are shadows looking for light.

Shadows in Paradise is a committed film that is anxiously aware of developments that threaten to bury all that is left of people's humanity under coldness, indifference and superficiality. Its modest comment is concealed within a modest love story that both contains funny insights and transits the mutted anger and pain of its protagonists neatly. With this his third feature writer/director Kaurismaki clearly emerges as the most interesting talent working in the Finnish cinema.

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