Aki Kaurismaki was born in Finland in 1957.
He started out writing
screenplays for his brother Mika's films:
Valehtelija/ The Liar (1981),
Arvottomat/ The Worthless (1982),
Klaani - Tarina Sammakoitten Suvusta/ The Clan Tale of Frogs (1984) and
His debut as a director was an adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel
Crime and Punishment (1983).
Calamari Union (1984) is the surreal comedy that revealed his mad imagination and dark humour. Filmed in black and white, it tells the allegorical
fable of a group of nameless people who are looking for a magical place that has not been created yet.
The homeless of Helsinki hold a conference in a warehouse and decide to migrate
to another part of the city, Eira. They share the same name: they are all called
Frank. They also share what little money they have. In the middle of the night, they walk underground to the subway and steal a train. They get off at a subway station (the hijacker is shot dead by a guard and smokes a last cigarette before dying, while the others abandon him, more or less indifferent). Now they spread in the city. Two of the Franks walk into a theater and watch a silent movie, and steal the food of a girl. One of the Franks steals a briefcase and walks into a nice hotel, pretending to be a guest. Two wander in a museum of art. One of the Franks drops dead into the harbor. Another one hitches a ride by jumping onto the hood of a car as it is passing by. One comes out of a manhole and talks to one who is sleeping on a tree. There are Franks everywhere. The two who slept in the movie theater get breakfast in a small restaurant and meet other Franks (one of them makes love to the waitress behind the counter, while the others eat and talk). Other Franks walk in, including one who speaks like an American. The Frank who was riding on the hood of the car is dumped in front of the same cafe`.
The little crowd of Franks decide to buy a bus and walk into a bank to get a loan, but the director calls the police. Two of the Franks steal a vespa and ride into a bar.
The Frank at the hotel promises a better life to one of the maids. Two Franks take a taxi and rescue a suicidal Frank who was lying on the road. The taxi driver takes them to a bar and gives them drinks and cigarettes, even if they don't pay him.
The Franks discuss other Franks as if the name "Frank" was not ambigous at all among them.
The taxi driver takes his two passengers to the harbor where they can sleep with other homeless people.
The Frank at the hotel kisses his maid and then leaves the hotel from the service exit. A Frank steals a limo with a politician inside. A Frank dies and another Frank stops a hearse to load the dead body, and drives away in it.
In the morning, the Franks shoplift food and then eat it under a bridge.
Frank took a doorman's job at the hotel. A Frank buys a new suit. The suicidal
Frank visits a psychologist who advises him to commit suicide.
One of the Franks does hang himself in a bathroom. The taxi driver is now
begging for money because someone stole his taxi.
The Frank who speaks like an American is shot dead by gangsters in a fast-food
All the Franks (including the dead ones) get on stage and sing a punk anthem.
A blonde picks up a Frank. Frank tells her they want to go to Eira, and
she laughs because there are no houses in Eira yet.
A Frank lectures a secretary in a bar and she, bored, shoots him dead and takes off in a Porsche.
A Frank tries to seduce a widow but she chooses another Frank instead (the rejected Frank walks on stage and plays guitar with the band that was packing its instruments).
The suicidal Frank and another one steal a boat to go to Estonia and, after fighting for it, take off together in the sea.
Shadows in Paradise (1986) was the realistic melodrama that began his
"proletarian trilogy". The film is an
naturalistic, anti-emotional and at times
absurdist fairy tale set in a
dreary urban landscape
caricatured boring taciturn proletarian anti-hero
(a garbage man) who suffers from
alienation and loneliness.
The film emphasizes in almost comic overtones the difficulty of
communication among working-class people who feel disoriented outside their awful work routine.
Nikander is a dull man who lives in a small decaying apartment by himself.
His only friend is his colleague: they are garbage men, who every morning
leave the depot on their truck to pick up garbage around the city. His friend
is planning to start his own company and wants Nikander to join him.
Nikander gets hurt while fixing his car and walks into a supermarket while
still bleeding. A cashier, who looks as dull and lonely as him,
takes care of his arm. Nikander's only hobbies are taking English lessons
(each student practices in his/her own cage) and playing bingo (each player
plays by him/herself). The only possible change in his lifestyle would come
from his friend's business ideas, but he has a heart attack and dies.
Nikander is so shocked that he gets involved in a brawl and ends up in jail.
In jail Nikander meets a nice man and offers his the job of the dead friend.
Nikander invites the cashier to an evening out, but he is so boring that
she walks home. The following day she is laid off because her boss needs
to find a job for his daughter, and, in retaliation, she steals the cash box
and then asks Nikander to take her out of town. They take two single rooms
in a hotel, but he helps her open the cash box. When they return home,
the police arrests her (Ilona) but she doesn't have the cash box anymore:
Nikander has returned it to the supermarket.
Released, Ilona moves in with Nikander. She finds a new job, working in
a department store, but her boss doesn't like the garbage man who comes to
talk to her (she is ashamed of Nikander and pretends it is just a cousin).
The boss is courting her and she eventually decides to leave the dull Nikander.
Nikander, back to his solitary life of playing bingo, gets very depressed.
Nikander goes to visit his sister at the mental hospital where she lives.
Ilona dumps her boss and walks back to Nikander's apartment but he is out
drinking. He is beaten by punks and then taken to a hospital.
When he is released from the hospital, Nikander picks up Ilona at the
department store and takes her to a cruise, calling it their "honeymoon".
Hamlet Goes Business (1987) is a modern adaptation of
William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" turned into a B-movie film noir,
a Casablanca-style melodrama with a clownish Hamlet imitating Humphrey Bogart.
The film ends like an epic of social realism, with the workers triumphing over
the corrupt, decadent and homicidal aristocrats.
The film is mostly notable for the last five minutes that completely subvert
Klaus and Gertrude kiss passionately but he exchanges her glass with a glass in which he has poured poison. She brings the glass to her husband who is working in his studio.
His son Hamlet finds him dead but thinks he is just fallen asleep.
During the funeral
the business advisor to Hamlet's father, discusses the situation with another man while his daughter
The dead man owned
a corporation. Hamlet will inherit the majority of shares and, with his approval, Klaus will become president because Klaus has been
buying shares. They think that Hamlet is too stupid to understand how powerful
Two months later Hamlet is trying to have sex with Ophelia but she first wants to be married. Hamlet is playing classical music on a tape deck. When she leaves, he kicks a jukebox that starts playing blues-rock.
His mother Gertrude tells Hamlet that she intends to marry Klaus.
Hamlet threatens to disinherit her but they still get married.
The ghost of the dead man walks around the building.
Klaus takes over the corporation.
He sends two emissaries to negotiate a deal that will give the corporation
a monopoly on rubber ducks. The deal involves shutting down the
shipyards which may cause protests and a strike.
Klaus makes fun of Hamlet, who in theory could derail the deal, but is only
interested in pursuing X's daughter.
Hamlet sees the ghost of his father and follows him on the roof.
His father tells Hamlet that he was murdered. He is now in hell but hopes
Hamlet will avenge his murder. Ophelia's brother Lauri comes to complain that his
office sucks and warns Hamlet to stay away from Ophelia.
Hamlet insults him and Lauri asks Klaus a one-year sabbatical to study.
Hamlet is busy writing poems for Ophelia, but Lauri warns Ophelia against
giving in to the "gigolo" and she promises. Their father, instead, asks her
to continue flirting with him because he has so much money .
Hamlet vents his frustration of being useless to the
chaffeur, who replies that he is only interested in romancing the servant Helena.
Hamlet attends the board meeting to approve the transition to rubber ducks.
He is considered an idiot and sits at a separate table drawing childish
pictures. But when it comes to voting he stands up and vetoes the deal: no
shutdown of the shipyards and no rubber ducks.
Ophelia refuses Hamlet's marriage proposal and he falls into a state of deep melancholy.
Polonius is suspicious that Hamlet is seen always reading and approaches him
to find how what is going on. Klaus watches them on closed-circuit television.
One evening Hamlet and Ophelia go out together. He tries again to sleep with her but again she refuses and he spends the night alone in a club where a punk-rock band is performing.
When he walks out, Hamlet sees the chaffeur kissing his girlfriend Helena and Hamlet kisses her too: the chaffeur almost hits him.
Back home he invites his mother and Klaus to theater: they are surprised
that he is suddenly so kind towards them.
Hamlet takes Ophelia with them. The theatrical play is performed like a
silent movie that reenacts the murder of his father.
Hamlet pays the light engineer to focuse the stage light on his parents
who leave the theater.
At night Hamlet enters Klaus' office where Klaus is drinking alone and points
a gun at him but Hamlet is interrupted by Helena who summons him to her room.
Klaus shows her the gun with which he wants to kill Klaus.
He then senses that someone is hiding in the closet and shoots at it: Polonius falls dead.
Hamlet drags Polonius' body out and puts it on top of the dumpster.
To save him from arrest, Klaus sends Hamlet away on a business trip.
Ophelia returns his letters. Hamlet tells her that he doesn't want to marry her anymore.
Klaus trusts Hamlet with a letter for his contact abroad. After Hamlet leaves,
Klaus tells his friends that the letter contains instructions to kill Hamlet.
Hamlet opens the letter and reads it, not realizing that Klaus' thugs are
watching him. They follow him on the ferry and try to kill him but instead
he kills them.
Meanwhile, Ophelia kills herself.
Lauri returns to avenge his father's death and his sister's suicide.
Klaus places the blame entirely on Hamlet.
Hamlet returns and finds out that Ophelia is dead. Klaus and Lauri arrange to poison Hamlet but instead accidentally kill Hamlet's mother Gertrude.
They prepare another plot to kill Hamlet. Hamlet walks into Klaus' office and
finds them both there. He kills Lauri by throwing a radio on his head (the radio plays rock and roll). Klaus shoots him but misses. Hamlet shoots at Klaus and
kills him. Then Hamlet calls the police and reports that Klaus and Lauri
killed each other.
Hamlet summons the chaffeur in his office.
The chaffeur is actually a spy for the union that wants to find out what will happen to the shipyard.
Hamlet tells the chaffeur that he has decided to sign the contract for the rubber ducks and sell the shipyard, the deal that he had vetoed; and Hamlet also confesses that he, not Klaus, poisoned his father.
A flashback shows that Hamlet switched Klaus' weak poison with much stronger
poison: Klaus only wanted to weaken his father, not kill him.
The chaffeur serves him a poisoned drink and Hamlet dies. Then the chaffeur
tears apart the contract that Hamlet just signed and Helena vacuums the pieces of paper.
The chaffeur and Helena leave the house.
Tulitikkutehtaan Tytto/ The Match Factory Girl (1989)
is a bleak portrait of an ordinary meaningless blue-collar life
against the backdrop of the flow
of history to which this kind of lives don't seem to belong at all.
it follows the melancholy daily ritual of an alienated worker and shows
how it turns into a different kind of ritual, a once-in-a-lifetime kind
of ritual, a homicidal one; a parable akin to
Bresson's L'Argent (1983).
The first few minutes are a visual and audio symphony for machines of the
assembly line, then we finally see the plain-looking female worker
checking the final product: white cubic matchboxes, all identical.
She takes the bus home. She starts cooking. She serves food
to her parents. Not a word is exchanged while the tv set broadcasts the evening
news (notably the Chinese student demonstrations in Tiannamen Square and
the death of Iran's "supreme leader" Khomeini).
She dresses up and hits a dancehall. She sits politely against the wall waiting
in vain for a man to invite her to dance. She goes back home and to bed (or,
better, to her couch).
The following day she enters a bar and orders a beer.
In the evening she irons her clothes while her parents watch the new (this time
the Polish Pope kissing the floor of the 80th country visited in his life,
besids more of the Chinese protests).
Impulsively, one day she spends all her salary on a red dress.
When she shows the dress to her parents, her father slaps her in the face and
calls her a whore. She cries and walks out with the box, but, instead of
returning it, she wears it at a bar. It works: this time a man picks her
up and, after dancing, takes her at his place, where she spends the night.
In the morning the man leaves for work leaving a banknote for her (clearly
he thought she was a whore). She writes on a piece of paper
her work phone number for him (and learn that her name is Iris).
We still haven't heard her say a word.
She visits her brother, a chef who offers her free food and can't believe that she
still supports their parents, especially the man, who apparently is not their
real father (this is the first scene in which she speaks).
When she's done with work, she patiently waits for the factory phone to ring
but eventually she has to accept that he won't call and she walks home as
She finds a gift from her mother with a note that says "Congratulations!"
It is a book and she simply files it in a bookcase without even opening it.
In a restaurant she eats dessert by herself. In a movie theater she
watches a Marx Brothers comedy but cries instead of laughing: obviously
she is not paying attention to the screen.
Finally she resolves to visit the man she slept with. She sees a woman leave his
place. He promises to pick her
up from home the following day. His parents treat him formally, but he doesn't
seem interested in their company, annoyed that he has to wait for Iris to
get ready. The date goes horribly wrong because he coldly tells her that he
has no intention of having a real relationship. It gets worse when she
finds out that she is pregnant, but she stoically continues her diligent
silent work at the factory.
She writes a letter to the man, Aarne, to tell him that she is having
his child as if they had been lovers for years when in fact they slept
together only once. She does not mail the letter, she physically hands it to
him at his workplace (he seems to have a much better job, at least one
that requires a suit and tie in an office building).
He replies with a typewritten one-sentence letter that she should have
an abortion and attaches a cheque. Upset, the girl gets hit by a car.
Her "father" only visits her at the hospital to tell her that they are
ashamed of her and want her to move out.
Her brother helps her pack her few belongings and lets her stay at his place.
She buys rat poison and returns to Aarne's apartment, where she has to wait
again for a woman to come out. Aarne lets her in and she tells him that
she had the abotion, and even returns the cheque;
but it is just an excuse to pour the poison into his drink.
She leaves and he drinks.
She then walks into a bar, orders a drink and sits by herself to read
her book. A man comes to sit next to her and smiles at her. She pours the
poison in his drink and leaves without saying a word. He drinks.
She visits her parents late at night. She doesn't say a word.
She poisons their drinks, then she lights a cigarette and turns on the radio.
The following morning she is at work as usual, expression-less as usual,
when two police officers come to pick her up.
Ariel (1988), the second part of the
is one of Kaurismaki's oddball melodramas, in which lonely
characters of the working class (or of the lumperproletariat) can make drastic
decisions on the fly, and aspire to leave their city (that they perceive as a jail) to start a new life in another land.
Taisto is a man who lives in a poor town of the snowy countryside
and takes random jobs. His life changes when his friend decides to commit
suicide (he shoots himself in the restrooms of a cafe`) and leaves him the
keys of his big convertible car. Taisto takes the car (the garage collapses
after he drives away), cashes his salary and takes off, driving with the open
roof (he thinks it doesn't work) and with a radio in the back seat. Two punks
rob him when he stops to get some food. In the morning, he has to stand in line
to get a job. In the evening, he sleeps in a dormitory. While he keeps looking
for jobs, he meets a lonely woman (working as a parking enforcer, she's about
to give him a ticket, but he bribes her with a dinner) who is divorced and has
a child. She does not hesitate to quit her job to spend the evening with him,
and he is almost ready to marry her after a few seconds. After they make love,
they introduce each other properly. He promises eternal love, and she seems
to believe him. The child wakes him up with a gun and offers him breakfast.
A hard-working woman, she has another job in a slaughterhouse and another job as
a night watchman at a bank.
The three spend a day by the sea. The hostel kicks him out because he can't
pay rent. Taisto finds one of the men who robbed him and chases him in the
subway, but the police arrests him, Taisto, for trying to murder the thief.
Taisto is condemned to two years in jail, but he and his cellmate, an
odd murderer called Mikkonen, plan to escape. After Taisto attacks a guard
who has insulted him, he is locked in solitary confinement. Irmeli and her
son send him birthday presents. When he returns to his cell from confinement,
he finds Mikkonen eating one of them, the birthday cake. Except that it is
not his birthday at all: the woman and the child sent him a saw hidden in the
other present, a book. The two use the saw to escape.
Taisto and Irmeli get married. At night, the police storms the apartment
but Taisto flees in time.
The two fugitives now plan to
emigrate to Latin America. In order to do so, they plan to rob a bank, and
promise half of the loot to the gangsters who help them get a car and a gun
and passports for the trip.
The robbery succeeds, despite their awkwardness. Mikkonen brings the money
to the gangsters and wants to pick up the passports, but they shoot him to
keep all the money. Taisto shoots them and takes the mortally wounded Mikkonen
with him. As he is dying, Mikkonen finds a button in the car that closes the
roof. Taisto and Irmeli dig a grave for Mikkonen in the woods.
Then the couple picks up the child and boards the ship, whose destination is Mexico.
Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989) e`
una commedia musicale che ricorda Blues Brothers.
Nella campagna russa un combo di musicisti, con capigliatura alla Presley,
scarpe grottescamente a punta e portamento impassibile, eseguono musiche
folkloristiche durante un'audizione preparata dal loro manager (sempre in
pelliccia). L'audizione fallisce, ma viene loro consigliato di provare in
America. I musicisti usano trattori per spostarsi da un luogo all'altro.
Uno dei suonatori muore congelato mentre sta provando di fuori, ma decidono
di portarlo egualmente con loro in America. S'incamminano per prati innevati
portando la bara e i loro strumenti. Un muto calvo vorrebbe seguirli ma
lo bastonano. Sull'aereo studiano inglese. Il muto riesce a viaggiare
di nascosto con i bagagli. A New York il manager si mette subito a caccia
di scritture, ma l'audizione e` un fiasco: viene loro consigliato di
andare in Messico. Comprano un'auto e si mettono in marcia, due nel
bagagliaio e la bara sul tetto, mentre il muto li segue a piedi.
Imparano il rock and roll e cominciano a suonare nei club che incontrano,
schiavizzati dal manager che tiene per se` tutti i magri proventi e li
sperpera in lattine di birra (nascoste nella bara). Cominciano a far soldi
e decidono di seppellire il morto, ma durante la processione la polizia li
arresta. Il muto continua a seguirli a piedi e in una palude pesca un grosso
pesce che si porta dietro. I musicisti, scarcerati, si ribellano al manager
quando viene loro rubato il motore della Cadillac. Lo legano e con i soldi
comprano un'altra Cadillac. Il muto offre loro il pesce e viene accettato,
ma poi il manager offre al muto un posto di potere se lo libera e il muto
li tradisce. Tutto torna come prima, con il manager che li tratta peggio
che animali. Trovano un cugino anche lui con lo stesso ciuffo e le stesse
scarpe a punta che si unisce a loro. Il cugino rivitalizza la loro carriera.
Arrivano in Messico, dove gli sposi li stanno aspettando per festeggiare il
loro matrimonio. Il muto asciuga il congelato nella bara e lo resuscita
con un po' di tequila.
Sempre a meta` strada fra Zavattini e realismo magico, Kaurismaki si concede
un apologo puramente umoristico sul sogno americano.
I Hired A Contract Killer (1990) is a strange little film, shot in English in London, a sort of bleak satirical farce halfway between a Kafka-esque story and a Brecht-ian apologue.
The laconic and un-emotional recitation keeps the viewer "estranged".
The theme is loneliness: all three characters (the man, the woman and the
hitman) are lonely individuals whose lives are meaningless.
Henri is a Frenchman in England who shares an office with many other workers.
His desk is covered with piles of paper files.
He leads a solitary life in a humble apartment. A wooden ladder leads to the terrace where he grows some plants.
One day, out of the blue, his boss informs him that he is being laid off because
they have "redundancies" and foreigners are the first ones to be affected.
The boss gives him a gold watch as a token of appreciation for 15 years of work,
but the watch doesn't work.
All the pages are blank in his address book.
He buys three meters of sturdy rope and tells the landlady that he is moving out.
Then he tries to hang himself but fails. So he turns on his gas stove and sticks his head inside, but the stove runs out of gas.
While having breakfast in a cafe, Henry reads about a contract killer.
He pawns the gold watch and withdraws all his savings.
He visits a shady night-club. He insults the public. Two men approach him.
He coldly tells them that he needs a killer. They take him to their boss.
Henri gives him a picture of himself and asks him to be killed quickly.
Then he goes home and waits patiently. Since noone comes to kill him, Henri
decides to walk down to the pub, but he carefully hangs a notice telling the
hitman where he is going.
Henri doesn't drink alcohol and doesn't smoke but this time he orders whiskey and cigarettes.
A woman enters the pub selling roses. Henri offers her a drink and tries to
strike a conversation. She gives him her address. Someone is watching him through the window. When he
returns home, someone follows him. Now Henri hides, afraid.
When it's safe, Henri walks to Margaret's place and makes love to her.
Henri tells Margaret that he wanted to die but now doesn't want to anymore.
Henri now is afraid is walking outside. Margaret offers to pick up his stuff
at his apartment while he visits the killers and cancels the contract.
However, the building of the killers has been demolished and in any event
the hitman recognizes Margaret and follows her.
Luckily the hitman breaks into Margaret's apartment while Henri is out.
The hitman calmly prepares his gun in front of Margaret and waits.
However she hits him in the head when Henri returns and the two move to a hotel.
The hitman has his own problems: a doctor diagnoses that he only has one or two months to live.
During the day, Henri has a drink in a bar where Joe Strummer is performing
and recognizes the two thugs who works for the boss.
He follows them and sees that they are robbing a jewelry.
They accidentally shoot the jeweler and flee dropping the gun in Henri's hand,
with a camera recording the scene.
Henri is now a wanted man, with his picture in all the newspapers, while the
ailing hitman keeps following Margaret to get to him.
Henri leaves her a farewell note and tries to kill himself under a train but fails again.
The hotel receptionist tells Margaret that he saw Henri. She finds him
serving hamburgers at a remote fast-food place. They sleep together.
Henri is cleared of the jewelry heist after the cops arrest the two thugs.
Now he only has the hitman to worry about, and the hitman doesn't have long to live.
Henri quit his job and prepares to leave the fast-food place when the hitman
appears. The hitman chases him in the alley. After confessing that he is
dying of cancer, the hitman says goodbye, then he turns the gun to his own chest and kills himself.
Margaret is rushing to the scene on a taxi and the taxi almost runs Henri over.
Boheemielamaa/ La Vie de Boheme (1992), shot in French, is an adaptation of Henri Murger's novel, "Scenes de la Vie de Boheme" (1851),
the source also of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme".
It's another blaspheme distortion of a literary classic through
demented dialogues and substandard recitation that are reminiscent of
A man with briefcase walks into a bar. Marcel is a writer and the
publisher has rejected his new book. The
bartender offers to read it and Marcel leaves a voluminous
manuscript on the counter. Marcel
lives alone in poverty. The landlord comes with a body guard to evict him,
and then hands the keys to the new tenant, a musician, even though Marcel's
belongings are still inside.
A starving Marcel walks into a restaurant and strikes a friendship with a
customer, Rodolfo, who shares a bicephalic trout.
Rodolfo reveals that he is an illegal immigrant living for three years in Paris.
The two discuss art and music till late night and then
Marcel invites Rodolfo to his apartment. There they meet the
new tenant, Schaunard, who is playing his music on his piano.
They all become friends and Marcel is allowed to sleep in his old house.
The painter Rodolfo lives alone with a dog, Baudelaire.
Rodolfo asks a debtor to pay his debt. The debtor gives him a ring to pawn.
Rodolfo and Schaunard spend an evening in a bar. Rodolfo
falls in love with a girl but the girl prefers Schaunard.
Back home Rodolfo finds a
woman, Mimi, sitting on the steps, waiting for neighbor, but Rodolfo tells her that
the neighbor has been imprisoned for three years.
Mimi has nowhere to go.
Rodolfo gives her his bed telling her that he can sleep at a friend's, but in
reality he sleeps in a cemetery with his dog Baudelaire.
Rodolfo steals flowers from a tomb to bring them to Mimi but she has already left the apartment.
Marcel is hired as editor-in-chief of a new publication and Rodolfo is hired
by a rich businessman to make a portrait of him. Now they have money.
Schaunard takes a taxi and doesn't pay (he punches the driver who asks him to pay the fare).
Marcel, who now has a girlfriend, Musette, encourages Rodolfo and Schaunard to dress properly so he can find them jobs at the company.
Schaunard asks for money to buy a car and Marcel gives it to him.
Rodolfo runs into Mimi again who found a job in a bar. He
brings her home and seduces her.
Rodolfo offers her to move in with him and to stop working.
A pickpocket steals Rodolfo's wallet on the way to a fancy restaurant,
creating an embarrassing situation in front of Mimi.
The restaurant owner calls the police, Rodolfo gets arrested and deported back to Albania.
He asks Marcel to look after the dog and the paintings.
Schaunard buys a used car and helps salvage Rodolfo's paintings.
Schaunard carries a ladder on his car's roof because he is in love with
a girl whose father doesn't like him: they are like Romeo and Juliet.
Six months later Rodolfo calls Marcel to pick him up at the border.
Schaunard and Marcel reach the border in the middle of the night and wait until
Rodolfo shows up in the trunk of a car, an illegal immigrant again.
Rodolfo immediately looks for Mimi. She has a new boyfriend but she dumps him
right away for Rodolfo.
Some time later Mimi is worried that they haven't paid rent and he could be deported again if the landlord evicts them, but the
rich customer returns, and buys Rodolfo's brand new painting for a good sum.
They pay rent but then they are poor again. An art gallery refuses Rodolfo's paintings.
Marcel is fired by the publisher for serializing his own play in the magazine.
They are all broke.
Schaunard invites everybody to his place and
performs his avantgarde sonata, but the women stare at each other in disbelief.
Now that he lost his job, Marcel's girlfriend Musette dumps Marcel and moves back to her hometown, revealing to Mimi that she pawned the ring to pay their rent.
Likewise, Mimi leaves Rodolfo for her ex boyfriend and a new job.
The trio wins some money playing cards and feeds themselves but Rodolfo, still
devastated by the loss of Mimi, refuses to eat.
Just then Mimi shows up: she has been evicted and has no place to go.
However, she is very sick. They call a doctor who gives her a few more months to live. The doctor tells Rodolfo that a private room at the hospital will cost her dearly. Rodolfo sells all his paintings to the businessman to pay for the
Spring comes and Mimi dies just when Rodolfo when to pick some flowers for her.
Pida Huivista Kiinni Tatjana/ Take Care of Your Scarf Tatiana (1994) is
a brief one-hour road movie and another exhibit of his
madcap surrealism, just a bit too chaotic and amateurish.
A young man, Valto, is helping his mother's clothing business by operating a sewing machine. However, he suddenly loses his temper when she refuses to make coffee for him. He locks her in a closet, steals her money and walks to a cafe.
Then he reaches his friend Reino, who just finished fixing his car.
Valto asks Reino to test the car.
Reino asks Valto to pay the bill first.
Then they leave together. They keep driving into the evening.
They stop for coffee and are noticed by two girls, passengers on a bus that broke down
and is being fixed outside. The two girls looked at them and decided they
are dumb enough to give them a ride.
Sure enough Valto and Reino give them a ride. The two girls are foreigners:
Tatiana from Estonia and Klavdia from Kazakhstan.
They stop at a dancehall where a rock band is performing and restart in the
Valto drinks only coffee. Reino drinks only vodka.
The two girls try in vain to strike a conversation.
The following night they stop at a hotel and take a room for four.
Again, the men ignore the women despite paying for their beds and their food.
The following night they go to a dancehall that is playing traditional folk music and again the men ignore the women.
When Reino goes to sleep, Tatiana follows him in his hotel room, but, again, he
ignores her, lies in bed without taking off his clothes, and falls asleep.
She tugs the blanket around him and lies next to him.
In the other room something similar happens
between Klavdia and Valto,
so the facto they split into two couples but neither couple communicates.
At a gas station Reino uses Valto's tie to test the oil.
The women complain about themselves that they are not making much progress towards their destination.
The following night they make a fire in the middle of nowhere and sleep in the car.
In the morning Reito sits next to Tatiana but doesn't say a word. She leans her head on his shoulder, also without a word.
That night they stop at a cafe.
The women pay for four teas to celebrate that it's the last night of their trip.
Reino and Tatiana stare at each other silently.
They sleep in the car at the harbor. In the morning the women say goodbye and board a ferry.
Reino asks Valto if they have any money left as the ferry is leaving.
The two men board the ship and join the women in the restaurant, silently as usual.
The camera shows the name of the city where they arrive: Tallinn.
Klavdia boards a train to Russia.
Valto tells Reino that they should start heading back home.
They drive Tatiana home and then Reino simply tells Valto that he stays with
Tatiana. He kisses her on a cheek and says goodbye to Valto.
Valto returns home. He sits alone at a restaurant meditating.
He opens a package that contains a gift: a coffee mug.
Then we see the four in the car and Valto
driving the car into a coffee place to order a small coffee while
a TV set is showing the concert of a rock band.
It's Valto watching the concert and we see that he is standing outside a
small coffee place and the car is intact and there's nobody in it.
Valto drives back home, unlocks his mother, who walks out calmly as if nothing had happened, and Valto resumes his duties at the sewing machine.
Did it all happen in his imagination?
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994)
Kauas Pilvet Karkaavat/ Drifting Clouds (1996) achieves an odd balance
between domestic humor and almost suicidal melancholy.
His warm attention for the small events of the soul of these ordinary people
of the middle class is reminiscent of the Italian comedy of the 1960s;
while the almost demonic humor leans towards the farcical and the slapstick.
Ilona e` la capo-cameriera di un ristorante un po' decaduto, la cui clientela
e` invecchiata negli anni. Il cuoco ubriacone e il portiere in livrea sono
ormai dei vecchi amici piu` che dei subordinati. Il marito di Ilona e` un
conduttore di tram. La loro vita coniugale e` molto umile. Lui le ha appena
comprato il primo televisore a colori con telecomando. Non possono permettersi
lussi, ma vanno d'accordo e si accontentano.
Tutto cambia quando lui, Lauri, viene licenziato. All'improvviso si ritrova fra
i disoccupati in una nazione in cui non ci sono posti di lavoro. Tenta invano
di trovare un lavoro, ma tutte le strade sembrano chiuse. Si ubriaca.
Come se non bastasse la padrona del ristorante convoca lo staff e annuncia
che il ristorante cambia gestione e lei deve licenziare tutti. Anche Ilona e`
senza lavoro. Finalmnete sembra che Lauri abbia trovato un buon impiego come
conducente di autobus, ma invece non passa l'esame medico. I due sono sempre
piu` depressi, anche se mantengono una loro dignita`. Lei trattiene le lacrime
a stento. Ilona incontra il buttafuori, anche lui mal ridotto. I tempi sono
cambiati, non c'e` piu` bisogno di capo-cameriere e di portieri. La gente non ha
soldi da spendere e non c'e` neppure piu` bisogno di ristoranti di lusso.
Anche per lei e` in serbo una crudele delusione. Il padrone di un bar malandato
la assume come tuttofare. Lei fa del suo meglio per elevare lo standard del
posto. Una sera rivede il cuoco, che e` ormai un barbone alcoolizzato. Se non
altro, lei si impegna a trasformare quel buco in un posto rispettabile. Invece
arriva la Finanza a chiudere il posto e spiegarle che e` tutto illegale. Smette
di lavorare senza essere stata pagata. Lauri si reca di persona dal padrone a
chiedere che le paghi lo stipendio, ma viene invece pestato a sangue. Rimane
per una settimana lontano da casa, per non farsi vedere insanguinato. Nel
frattempo pignorano i mobili dell'appartamento.
Il portiere convince Ilona che l'unica via d'uscita e` di mettere su il loro
ristorante. Ma le banche non sono disposte a prestare loro denaro. Si offre
invece la vecchia padrona. Con i suoi soldi, Ilona e i vecchi compagni
trasformano il piccolo bar in un ristorante di lusso. Il giorno dell'apertura
la suspense e` terribile. Passano le ore e non arrivano clienti. Quando gia`
Ilona sta per lasciarsi andare alla disperazione, arriva il primo cliente,
seguito da un altro e un altro e un altro. E` fatta.
He also directed
a British-French-Finnish production,
L.A. Without a Map (1998),
adapted from Richard Rayner's 1988 autobiographical travelogue.
Juha (1999) is a silent, black-and-white adaptation of
Juhani Aho's novel "Juha" (1911), comically set in contemporary Finland,
a rather silly exercise.
Juha and Marja are happily married peasants. We first see them selling their
vegetables at a farmer's market.
The film than shifts to a middle-aged man, Shemeikka, driving through the
countryside in a sport car. His car breaks down near where Juha is working with his tractor. Juha tows the car to the farm and tries to fix it.
Shemeikka is immediately smitten by Marja's beauty and tells her that she's
too young and beautiful to be married to an old cripple like her husband (her huband limps).
The car needs a part that can only be found in town so the generous Juha offers
Shemeikka to spend the night at the farm.
As they get drunk, Juha reveals that he raised Marja who was an orphan.
Marja watches and listens with a sad look on her face.
When the drunk Juha goes to bed, Shemeikka asks Marja to leave Juha and flee with him to the city.
Marja doesn't answer but we see that she sleeps on the floor next to Juha's bed.
In the morning he lets him hug her. The car is fixed and he leaves but promises to return for her.
Juha and Marja continue their farming routine.
Weeks later, she has become irritating. Juha yells at her and she locks
herself in a room.
One day Shemeikka returns. The naive Juha welcomes him.
Shemeikka drives both to a dancehall and dances with Marja while Juha drinks with friends.
Shemeikka tells Marja that he's ready to take her with him the following morning.
Marja is reluctant but gives in when she sees her husband drunk and asleep.
In the morning he doesn't even hear her while she is packing her belongings.
She leaves a note explaining that she now loves Shemeikka.
Shemeikka and Marja make romantic love in the woods.
He then takes her to a nice hotel and asks her to wait. A driver comes to
pick her up. The man drives her to a brothel.
Marja initially demand to be taken back to Juha's but then she relents.
And, when she refuses a customer, Shemeikka slaps her in the face.
Locked back in her room, which is really a prison, she remembers her
Meanwhile, Juha misses her terribly.
One day Marja finds a way to escape. However, as she is boarding a train,
she faints. At the hospital she is told that she is pregnant.
Months later she gives birth to Shemeikka's child.
Meanwhile, Juha decides to leave the farm. His dog runs in vain after the bus that he boards.
Somehow he finds Marja. He almost throws the baby out of the window but she stops him in time. He then pulls out an axe from his sack and marches towards
Shemeikka. Shemeikka shoots him but a wounded Juha still corners and kills him
(we only see the blood dripping from the axe).
Marja can now leave with the baby, and start a new life in the big city, but Juha dies alone in a dump among garbage.
Mies Vailla Menneisyytta/ The Man Without a Past (2002) is one of
his most existentialistic and cryptic meditations on the human condition.
A middle-aged man rides a train to a station at night. He gets out carrying
a suitcase. He picks a bench in in a public garden and falls asleep.
Suddenly, he is attacked by three punks who mercilessly beat him up and rob
He walks bleeding copiously into a shopping mall and collapses in the restrooms.
He dies at the hospital and the doctor coldly comments that it's better that
way than to be left a vegetable for life.
Then he suddenly wakes up and walks out, all bandaged and still bleeding.
He wanders to the bank of a river and falls asleep again.
Two children find him and call their father.
THe family lives in a humble container with steel walls.
They take him in, feed him and cure him.
Finally one day he talks.
He says he didn't talk before he had nothing to say.
The wife tells him that her husband is a night watchman.
The stranger does not remember who he is.
The watchman is poor but nice and compassionate.
He takes the stranger to a free meal served by the Salvation Army.
The watchman tests the stranger's memory and realizes that he can still do math.
The stranger feels that he's not from the city because it doesn't look familiar.
Anttila the guard in charge of the camp is easy to bribe:
the stranger is given the container of a man who froze to death the winter before.
Another man helps bring an old jukebox into the container: he doesn't have a
kitchen but he has a jukebox to play old blues records.
A bum who lives inside a garbage truck (and complains that the garbage
collectors are on strike and therefore he can't eat) sends him to the
He can't fill the form because he does't remember his name and the bureaucrats
don't believe his story.
The owner of a restaurant pity him and gives him leftovers to eat.
Irma, the kind middle-aged lady of the Salvation Army, gives him clothes on credit.
He doesn't cry, he doesn't beg: he takes what he is given.
The guard of the camp demands his bribe, and threatens to evict him or have his dog maul him, but the dog is clearly harmless (and in fact will sleep on his bed like an affectionate pet).
He receives money from the Salvation Army and finds an excuse to walk her home
(he tells her that the streets are not safe at night... for him).
She lives in a dormitory. He kisses her goodnight.
He pays the guard and asks to borrow his car.
The guard dog now follows him everywhere.
The stranger cooks for Irma, who is clearly lonely.
He now remembers something that has to do with a fatory and a fire.
He talks to the acoustic quartet of the Salvation Army,
specializing in traditional music, and trains them
to play the rock'n'roll records of jukebox. He wants to be their manager.
Irma and the Salvation Army quartet play for the homeless.
He goes mushroom hunting with Irma.
He has regained his joy of life, and credits her with inspiring him.
He now stands up to the guard who wants more money.
He is attracted by wielders and realizes that he is an expert wielder.
He is immediately offered a job.
He needs a bank account, though, and still doesn't have a name.
He walks into a small bank and argues with the only employee.
A man walks in with a gun: he wants his money (his account has been frozen).
He forces the grl to open the vault and gives him the money, and then locks
both the girl and the stranger in the vault.
The bank is going bankrupt: the alarm doesn't work, the air conditioning
doesn't, etc. She starts the fire alarm to call the police.
The police need to write a report. He gets in trouble because he doesn't have
a name and no identity papers. They arrest him.
He calls Irma. A lawyer shows up who expertly defends his case.
he man who robbed the bank shows upi a bar.
He feels sorry that he got him in trouble with the police.
He reveals that he was the owner of a construction company that went bankrupt.
He has a job for the stranger: to track down the
workers who have never been paid for their work, and deliver their last
paychecqe. He's an honest man. He doesn't care about being ruined: he just
wants to settle his debts with his former workers.
Meanwhile the police post a note around town with his picture, asking if
anyone can identify him.
The police detective comes to visit him: they discovered his identity.
His wife called that his name is Jaakko and he is a metal worker.
He doesn't remember the wife, and the detective doesn't know why she never
reported his disappearance.
Irma is devastated at the news that he has a wife.
Irma confesses that he was her first love.
Jaakko visits his wife, who tells him that they separated years earlier.
She has a new man and he's happy for her.
On the way back he accidentally meets the same three punks,
who are beating aother victim. His friends come out of the containers
and start chasing the punks.
It turns out that the punks have beaten many of the bums before.
He returns to Irma. There is no passion and no romance, just a quiet
Laitakaupungin Valot/ Lights in the Dusk (2006), that completed
the trilogy of working-class melodramas, is basically an old-fashioned
melodrama, replete with roles of the the classic melodrama such as
the femme fatale and the caring next-door girl.
The sullen and rigid
protagonist is exploited by all forms of power: by business, by gangsters and by government.
He is addicted to losing. And therefore accepts everything with
He even ignores the good girl who could rescue him from alienation and
He is a robot programmed for losing.
Here Kaurismaki shows no humor, only gloom and doom.
The anti-hero of Drifting Clouds has no job,
the anti-hero ofThe Man Without a Past has no home,
and the anti-hero of Lights in the Dusk has no friends.
Nonetheless, the stereotype of the melodrama wins and the film ends with a
happy ending of sorts.
It is the least original of the trilogy, and also the most serious of the
Koistinen, a security guard who works the night shift in a shopping mall,
and is clearly annoyed with the dehumanizing bureaucracy enforced by his
superiors, tries to talk to a woman in a bar but backs down when a bigger man
confronts him. Later, however, as he is sitting at a table alone, a blonde
sits next to him and strikes a conversation,
plainly inviting him to invite her out.
After being beaten up by three punks because he tried to save their dog
from starvation, Koistinen goes to the movies with the blonde. He then takes
her to a disco, but he can't dance. The only person who listen to his dreams
of starting his own business is the girl who sells fast-food outside the
shopping mall. When he tells her that he has a girlfriend, which he seems
to do precisely to upset her, she is clearly upset.
He is rudely rejected and insulted by the bank manager when he applies for
Meanwhile, we learn that Mirja, the blonde, works for a
gangster who has a deal with Russian gangsters to carry out a heist in
the shopping mall. As instructed by her boss,
she asks Koistinen to give her a tour of the shopping mall, and he gladly does
She memorizes all the codes as he opens doors for her.
Later she drinks in the office of the gangster in a highrise building, and
she sleeps with him when he commands her to.
Koistinen is seriously in love: he spends what little money he has on her,
and prepares nice dinner at his humble apartment.
She tells him that she has to visit her sick mom.
Disappointed, Koistinen gets drunk.
The girl of the fast-food van, Alia, takes him home.
The following day Koistinen has an argument with coworkers who make fun of
his sex life.
That night someone breaks into the shopping mall using his
keys, disables the alarm system, and steals all the jewelry.
The police detective has no doubts that Koistinen is the thief because
his code and keys were used, but he refuses to cooperate and implicate the girl.
Imprisoned, he is soon released for lack of evidence.
The gangster, however, wants him framed. He instructs Mirja to
visit Koistinen and plant jewelry in his apartment.
Koistinen sees her do so in a mirror. Now he has final evidence that she
used him. Nonetheless, he doesn't react.
When she leaves, he pulls out the jewels and lays them down on the table,
and patienty waits. The police come (called by the gangsters) and find the
loot that incriminates him. Koistinen is sentenced to one year in jail.
Alia is the only friend who attends the trial.
Alia writes him letters, but Koistinen simply throws them away.
Finally, he is released. His building has been demolished. He rents a room
elsewhere, a shelter for poor people, and finds a job as a dishwasher.
Alia finds out where he works but he shuns her. She visits him at the shelter
and he only tells her that he has plans for the future.
One day the gangster and Mirja happen to sit at a table of the restaurant while
Koistinen is bringing clean dishes into the main room.
They stare at each other but
no word is exchanged. The gangster coldly calls the manager and tells her that
Koistinen was in jail for theft: he is soon dismissed.
He grabs a knife at home and waits for the gangster to come out of the restaurant.
He doesn't cause much damage
because the thugs who protect the gangster catch him and beat him up before
his knife can reach the boss. Mirja simply stares.
A black boy who knows him has witnessed the beating and alerts Alia.
Koistinen tells Alia he doesn't need help while he is bleeding badly.
But he holds her hand.
Le Havre (2011), set in France, is a fairy tale in the vein of
Chaplin and DeSica. There is
a happy poor childless couple that is content with the little they have
and their uneventful life. There is the usual cast of wacky characters,
all of them with a golden heart except one vicious jealous informer.
There is a sad inspector, whom everybody despises but who is actually
willing to risk his career to help people.
Miracles happen and everybody is happy.
A comic beginning introduces us to the protagonist: an old man (the protagonist)
and a young Asian man wait patiently at a train station. A
well-dressed man approaches and sits down in front of the old man. The old man
bends and starts shining his shoes. Two young men appear, one of them wearing
sunglasses. The well-dressed customer pays and gets up. The two young men
kill him. Marcel, the shoeshiner, comments that luckily the man had time to
pay for the shoeshining. On the way home Marcel steals a loaf of bread from
a kind baker, Yvette, to whom he owes a lot of money. Another shopowner quickly
lowers the shutters when he sees Marcel approach. Marcel proudly brings home
the little money he made during the day. His wife seems proud of him and
sends him out to get a drink while she cooks dinner. When he gets back home,
she serves him dinner and watches him eat.
She doesn't eat anything.
She is sick, but he doesn't know.
Later he goes to bed while she irons his pants and even shines his shoes.
Meanwhile, at the docks the authorities discover a container full of illegal
immigrants from Africa. When the inspector arrive, they open the door and
find the Africans staring at them silently.
An old man nods at a child and the child runs away before the police can
stop him. The following day the newspapers talk about armed terrorists
when in fact they were peaceful and starving.
Chance has it that Marcel is eating a sandwich at the port and sees the boy
hiding in the water. He doesn't have time to offer food to the boy because
the inspector shows up. Marcel is forced to leave. At the bar he watches the
the police are destroying a camp built illegally by illegal immigrants.
He chats with his Asian friend, Chang, and he confesses that he also immigrated
illegally. Marcel doesn't tell anybody about the black boy. At night he drops
food and water where the boy will find them. Back home he finds that his
wife Arletty has collapsed. He calls Yvette and she gives them a ride to the hospital.
Since he's alone now, Marcel takes the boy home. His name is Idrissa .
At the hospital
the doctor tells Arletty that she has an incurable cancer. She begs him not to
tell her husband. Her husband comes bringing flowers. They are an elderly
couple, but in love like teenagers.
A neighbor sees Marcel with the black boy and calls the police.
The following day the inspector talks to Marcel. Marcel is afraid, but it
turns out that the inspector is not interested in arresting the boy but in
warning Marcel that one of his neighbors has called the police.
On the way home Yvette and the other shopkeeper give him extra food: they
know about the boy and want to help Marcel (who has barely money to pay for
his own meals).
Marcel looks for Idrissa's family while he teaches the boy the profession
of shoeshine boy. Looking for Idrissa's family, Marcel takes a night bus to
another city. He arrives at the bus station in the middle of the night and
sleeps on a chair till the stores open.
He finds Idrissa's grandfather in a refugee camp and learns that
Idrissa's father is dead and the address of his mother.
Meanwhile the whole neighborhood has been alerted to the presence of the
black boy and everybody is offering help (Marcel had told Yvette to keep it a
secret). Idrissa shines shoes in the subway: the informer calls the
police but luckily Chang is there to help.
To keep him in the dark about her cancer, Arletty tells Marcel that he has
to stop visit him because of medical reasons.
The inspector is under pressure from his superiors to arrest the boy, although
his life's mission is to arrest criminals, not immigrants.
The inspector obtains no cooperation from Marcel's neighbors.
It turns out the inspector, Henri, is an old friend of the bar owner: he is
the cop who sent her husband to jail. Henri continues the investigation but
shows no desire to find Marcel and the boy.
At the hospital the quiet tragedy of Arletty continues: she's waiting to die.
Meanwhile, Marcel has bargained the price to take Idrissa to England where his
mother is. To raise the money, Yvette suggests that they organize a charity
concert. Marcel convinces an aging rocker, Bob, to perform. The day of the
concert he sends Idrissa to the hospital and Arletty sees the boy for the
first time, not knowing anything about him.
Marcel makes enough money to pay for the passage.
The inspector shows up and Marcel is ready to attack him, but Henri has come
only to give advice: get rid of the boy as soon as possible. The warning
is precious: soon a whole truck of cops breaks into the house and turns it
upside down to find the boy. But the boy is already safely
hidden in a cart of vegetables on his way to the port. The cops show up
just before the boat can depart, but the inspector arrives in time to
save the situation (he physically sits on the trap door of the place
where the boy is hiding so that the cops will not search inside).
The boy leaves. Marcel finally visits his wife at the hospital: a miracle
happened and she is ready to go home, healed.
The cherry tree is blossoming and she starts cooking.
Toivon Tuolla Puolen/ The Other Side of Hope (2017) is a
rather slow melodrama, devoid of
the surreal overtones of his classics, perhaps on a topic that is too
serious for a punk director. Kaurismaki is not at the top of his narrative
skills, and many scenes feel redundant.
The film depicts a world simplistically divided in very good people and very evil people.
In the middle of the night a man emerges from a pile of dirt and walks out of a ship into the streets (obviously a stowaway).
Meanwhile a man is getting dressed and packing his briefcase. He puts the house key and his wedding ring on the table in front of his wife and leaves without
saying a word. She drops both in the ashtray.
The man drives away in a hurry and almost runs over the stowaway who is crossing a street.
In the morning, the stowaway takes a shower in the bathrooms of the train station and then asks for directions to the train station.
At the police station he applies for asylum. He is from Syria and his name is
Khaled. While he is waiting for the police station, he meets another refugee,
Mazdak, from Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Finn man, Waldemar, a shirt salesman,
offers to sell all his stock of shirts to an
acquaintance, saying that he wants to move to Mexico city.
Meanwhile, Khaled and Mazdak are taken to a shelter for refugees where they share a large room with several others.
Khaled is interrogated by Finnish authorities and explains that his entire
family was killed by a missile except for him and his sister Miriam.
They fled on foot to Turkey and then to Europe but were separated at a border.
He tried in vain to reunite with her and
wandered through Europe searching refugee camps for her sister.
He feels that she's still alive. He describes her and provides a photo.
Khaled is later harassed by thugs while waiting for the bus.
Meanwhile, Waldemar walks into a casino and makes a lot of money at poker.
He uses the money to buy a restaurant.
The old owner owes money to the three employees (chef, waiter and bartender).
He promises to pay them after he cashes the check but instead takes a taxi
to the airport.
One after the other the three ask Waldemar for an advance on the salary.
Meanwhile, the authorities keep interrogating Khaled. He declares himself
an atheist. He explains that he arrived in Finland by accident: when he was
attacked by Nazi skinheads in Poland, he hid in a cargo ship and fell asleep.
The authorities decide that there is no danger in Syria, deny his request of asylum and order him deported to Turkey.
That evening Khaled watches the news on television, ironically showing massacres in Syria.
Khaled, determined to find his sister Miriam in Europe, escapes but is attacked again by racists who pour gasoline on him
and try to set him on fire. He is saved by homeless people sleeping in the
Waldemar finds Khaled sleeping behind his restaurant's dumpster. Khaled attacks
him, Waldemar punches back and knocks him out. But then Waldemar offers him
food at the restaurant, a job as the restaurant's janitor and a place to sleep.
The staff help Waldermar protect Khaled from the police.
They even find a young man who is a computer wiz and creates a fake id for Khaled.
Khaled visits Mazdak, who has spread the word about Miriam, but there are no news yet about her.
Waldemar tries to revive the restaurant's business with a Japanese theme.
The chef has to prepare fake sushi made with cheap herrings.
One evening finally Mazdak brings the good news to Khaled that his sister Miriam has been found in a refugee center in Lithuania.
Khaled is ready to travel immediately but Waldemar stops him:
too many borders to cross. Waldemar arranges for a trucker to go to Lithuania
and pick up the girl.
The mission succeeds and Khaled is finally reunited with Miriam.
The trucker doesn't even want money.
Miriam tells Khaled that several people have been good to her.
Miriam stays with the waitress.
On the way to the restaurant, where he sleeps, Khaled is attacked again by a racist who stabs him in the belly.
Waldemar visits his wife who has opened a kiosk and drives her to his restaurant.
He notices that Khaled is not in his room, and sees drops of blood.
Miriam has decided to turn herself to the police. The following morning a wounded Khaled waits for her in front of the police station and gives her instructions.
Khaled sits under a tree calmly smoking a cigarette.
He smiles when a dog comes to lick his face.