ARIEL (Aki Kaurismäki, 1988)

A brilliant tragicomedy of the discontinuous lives of the working poor, Ariel is the second part of Aki Kaurismäki’s “proletarian trilogy.” Taisto Kasurinen’s unhappy lot in life, we are given to understand, was set prior to the film’s action and will continue beyond its completion. At the outset, the closing of a coal mine deprives him and his father of their jobs; the latter gives Taisto the keys to his convertible and announces his intention of committing suicide. Taisto doesn’t believe he will do this, even after he brandishes a gun, for the simple reason that he has not already done this in a perpetually hard, unfair life. But we hear the offscreen shot and see Taisto looking down at his father’s body, which remains out of camera range. What we see reflects what Taisto sees, because we see him and his fate reflects his father’s.
     Taisto, on the road, is beaten and robbed. He becomes a day laborer and sleeps at night in a mission flophouse. Nights are as black as oil. He meets Irmeli Pihlaja, who gives up her job monitoring illegal parking ticketing cars in exchange for dinner, and has sex with him. “I hated [my ex-husband] from the start.” Taisto: “That’s unusual.” Irmeli: “That’s what you think.” The two, along with Irmeli’s self-sufficient young son, become a family. Irmeli takes a factory job cutting meat.
     But the law puts Taisto in prison after he runs across one of the men who robbed him and he tries taking back some of his money. With Irmeli’s help, he escapes, and the three plan on fleeing aboard the Mexico-bound Ariel under a mockingly gorgeous, dusky blue sky. We hear “Over the Rainbow” sung in Finnish and recall Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ill-fated schooner, Ariel.
     Poignant. Devastating.

B(U)Y THE BOOK

MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=16

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=19

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s