There’s a fine line between an artist spinning out variations of core themes and merely treading water. No doubt some will find Aki Kaurismaki’s deceptively slight, 77-minute Lights in the Dusk a textbook example of the latter, especially given the strenuously laudatory response that greeted his previous film, the Academy Award-nominated The Man Without a Past. While there’s not much value (outside of sheer contrarian pleasure) in poking holes in a fine movie four years after the fact, it’s still worth noting that The Man Without a Past probably represents less a high water mark for Kaurismaki’s filmmaking (see Shadows in Paradise) than for the amount of time and money expended on raising his profile, and that this kind of maneuvering, while often valuable, doesn’t always pay a filmmaker dividends when their next work rolls around.
“Lights in the Dusk” may not add anything particularly novel to the Kaurismaki formula, but for this viewer, easy familiarity bred content. The concluding chapter in his “Finland/Loser” trilogy (after Drifting Clouds and The Man Without a Past), Dusk follows lonely security guard Koistinen (relative Kaurismaki newcomer Janne Hyytiainen) as the already baleful drudgery of his daily existence takes a decidedly downbeat turn.
Click here to read the rest of Jeff Reichert’s review of Aki Kaursmaki’s Lights in the Dusk.