Shadows in Paradise (1986)

Shadows in Paradise (1986)

Two broke introverts fall in love in this unconventionally deadpan romantic comedy

7.5

Movie

Finland
English, Finnish, Swedish
Comedy, Drama, Romance
1986
AKI KAURISMÄKI
Aki Kaurismäki, Esko Nikkari, Haije Alanoja
74 min

TLDR

True love! Though maybe it's best to have your first date somewhere other than the bingo hall.

What it's about

Despite being painfully shy, garbage collector Nikander finds himself falling in love with supermarket check-out clerk Ilona, but their budding relationship gets tested when Iloni gets fired, and she steals from the store in retaliation.

The take

Grand gestures, over-the-top declarations of love, and elaborate gifts… These normal romcom acts can sometimes make it seem that romance can only be done by the wealthy. But, in reality, love can happen anytime, and the first film of Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy suggests that love is ultimately necessary in a world where two lovers are disenfranchised. As Nikander tries to woo a slightly disinterested Ilona, and as Ilona decides to depend on him for support, Shadows in Paradise might not have the usual frills of a romcom, but Kaurismäki finds the bare essentials in a depressing Finnish town, and captures the small ways it blooms in spite of it, through the lovers’ humorous blunt dialogue and the color their love adds to their world.

What stands out

The music selection. The tracks have a certain cinematic quality that plenty of 80s music has, with Finnish pop and rock-n-roll, but it’s the lyrics that hint at what’s coming next (and thankfully the version on streaming has the translated lyrics subtitled too).

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