Drifting Clouds

Finnish mannerist Aki Kaurismaki (Ariel, The Match Factory Girl, Leningrad Cowboys Go America) takes on the theme of contemporary unemployment in a tender love story that, by his own account, places Frank Capra’s emotional rescue story It’s a Wonderful Life in one extreme corner and Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief in the other, and the Finnish reality in between. The film was conceived in part for actor Matti Pellonpaa, who died before it went into production; it’s now dedicated to his memory, and a photograph of him as a boy plays a key role in the emotional orchestration. Despite some careful color coordination in the sets and some quiet humor in the mise en scene and plot, not to mention a mournful seriousness in the overall treatment of the theme, this is arguably one of those instances in the filmmaker’s touching but reductive minimalist oeuvre where less becomes less (1996). In Finnish with subtitles. 96 min. (JR)

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