Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ariel


Ariel; Drama, Finland, 1988; D: Aki Kaurismäki, S: Turo Pajala, Susanna Haavisto, Matti Pellonpää, Eetu Hilkamo

During winter, a mountain mine gets shut down and everyone is left without a job. Among them is Taitso who witnesses how his friend commits suicide from despair. He heads towards Helsinki in a cabriolet. There he gets robbed and doesn't find a job, but meets and falls in love with a woman whose son works at a police station and and a butchery. When Taitso attacks the robber who robbed him, he gets arrested and put in jail for a year. He runs escapes with Mikkonen and they plan to leave the country. The people who counterfeited their documents kill Mikkonen, so Taitso kills them and departs with the woman and her son on a ship called Ariel.

Simple and slightly monotone drama "Ariel" has typical elements of director Aki Kaurismaki, the "Finnish Jarmusch": meditative and minimalistic story, laconic direction, relaxed tone and unusual characters. Kaurismaki, who achieved his greatest commercial success with the hit comedy "Leningrad Cowboys go America", doesn't have that much humor here. The exception is only the scene where hero Taitso gets a parking ticket but persuades the police woman to go on a date with him if she takes the ticket back, upon which she agrees and throws her hat on the road which gets run over by a car. Kaurismaki doesn't criticize the social problems in a pedagogical-preachy way, yet his story is messy, unfocused and too thin, thus far away from an excellent grade. In the 70 minute of running time, Taitso experiences various misadventures and lands in jail, yet since it all has little energy, "Ariel" seems slightly anemic.

Grade:++

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