La Vie De Boheme

I’m no expert on Aki Kaurismaki’s films, but this 1992 poker-faced black-and-white adaptation of Henri Murger’s novel Scenes de la vie de boheme (the source of Puccini’s opera La boheme) is certainly the most boring one I’ve seen. It shares with some of Kaurismaki’s better features the conviction that attitude is an adequate substitute for sensibility, and its employment of minimalism a la Jarmusch begins with the dubious notion that black-and-white cinematography is a minimalist technique. (In Jarmusch’s films the use of black and white is always highly functional.) The plot concerns an Albanian refugee painter, a French playwright, and an Irish composer on the fringes of Paris bohemian life; but Kaurismaki’s version is basically a series of dry-as-dust, cynical actorly and directorial poses, shot in a Paris suburb yet clearly set in neither the present nor the past. I guess it’s an acquired taste. With Matti Pellonpaa, Andre Wilms, Kari Vaananen, Evelyne Didi, and Jean-Pierre Wenzel. In Finnish with subtitles. 103 min. (JR)

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