The Match Factory Girl

Except for Juha nine years later, this 1990 feature is the best thing I’ve seen by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. The conclusion of his proletarian trilogy, which began with Shadows in Paradise and Ariel, it centers on a meek, morose assembly-line worker (Kati Outinen) who’s brutalized by her mother and stepfather and usually ignored by everyone else. After she’s picked up and impregnated by a well-to-do architect who coolly exploits her, she plots and executes a rather extravagant revenge. Basically a postmodernist reshuffling of Robert Bresson and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, this doesn’t hold a candle to the best work of either, but on its own terms it has an unmistakable minimalist elegance. In Finnish with subtitles. 70 min. (JR)

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