Do You Speak Kaurismäki?

  • MUBI
Aki Kaurismäki. Photo courtesy of Janus Films.Watching an Aki Kaurismäki film can feel like dropping in on a world just out of step with our own. All the elements are there—the streets, the buildings, the people (and their docile dogs). But something is always off. A man’s desk is taken away while he’s still sitting at it to indicate he’s been laid off. A woman asks a pharmacist what rat poison does. “It kills,” the pharmacist says blankly. It’s as if the Finnish filmmaker is recreating a version of planet Earth with all the nuance removed. These highly orchestrated facsimiles should feel foreign, but their simplicity and dry humor instead allows for a familiarity to sink in. His universe is in fact far more relatable—and far more human—than meets the eye. Although he’s gained a reputation as a comically cynical auteur,
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