Skip to main content

THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL

Finland, 1989 (MIFF 1990, Spotlight Kaurismäki )

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

Humiliation and torment constitute the basic conditions of Iris's life. She is exploited at the factory, where she endures the drudgery of the production line, at home, where her parents hog her salary and the meat chunks from her soup, and then in a dancehall, where she meets a man who takes her back to his apartment for a one-night stand that has dire consequences.

Kaurismäki cites Robert Bresson and Alexander Mackendrick as the only two living masters of cinema. Their influences are well evidenced here. Using a style as spare and minimal as a Bresson film, he turns this portrayal of anguish into a wickedly sardonic black comedy as the mousy heroine, like the protagonist of Mackendrick's The Sweet Smell Of Success, re-arranges the seemingly inexorable circumstances of her existence.

But unlike other Kaurismäki films, the characters here are very realistically drawn and the settings - the production line of a factory, a living room where a television shows the tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square, the sterile modern apartment of a middle-class architect - are eminently recognisable.

Combining acute social observation with dead-pan humour, The Match Factory Girl is both a comic variation on the theme of a victim taking revenge on her tormentors and a wry critique of exploitation and social alienation in contemporary Finland. With its restrained pace and tightly controlled direction, it is arguably Kaurismäki's most accomplished film to date.
- (PKa)

See also...

LENINGRAD COWBOYS GO AMERICA

The Leningrad Cowboys do not enjoy a great deal of success or talent. The boys are used to playing Russian songs written for an all-male choir. What they lack in talent or marketability, is ... More »

HAMLET GOES BUSINESS

A "black and white underground, B-movie classical drama" born out of serious drinking with a friend, Hamlet Goes Business is the only one of Kaurismäki's films winch the director professes to like ... More »

TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW

It's inspired. It's crazed. It's beyond imagining. It's a rock'n roll detente. A pop perestroika. It's the Total Balalaika Show! ... In the beginning there was an idea - a joke - an incredible one ... More »

ARIEL

Ariel is the second film in a trilogy of films depicting Finland 1986-1989 that began with Shadows in Paradise (1986), and was completed with The Match Factory Girl (1989). It is the story of a young ... More »

SHADOWS IN PARADISE

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 ... More »

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Another screen version of Dostocvsky's novel, and one of the best Finnish films of recent years. Raskolnikov here is Rahikainen, a former law student, who now works in a slaughterhouse in Helsinki ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director