agmtw logo
search
The Match Factory Girl (1990)

The Match Factory Girl (1990)

A bleakly comic masterwork of economic storytelling from Finland’s maestro director

The Very Best

8.7

Movie

Finland, Sweden
Finnish
Comedy, Drama
1990
AKI KAURISMÄKI
Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari, Kati Outinen
69 min

TLDR

Never has “less is more” been this true.

What it's about

A young woman’s quiet life of drudgery is dramatically upturned after a one-night stand.

The take

With its 69-minute runtime, ultra-minimalist approach to camera movement, and dialogue so sparse it could fit onto a single page, the first word that comes to mind when describing The Match Factory Girl is “lean.” The second word is “bleak”: for most of the film’s slight duration, we watch as the lonely titular character (Iris, played by Kati Outinen) passively endures a relentless barrage of cruelties, whether from her coldly detached parents, callous love interest, or simply fate itself. 

And yet, these words — apt descriptors of the film as they are — only capture part of what makes The Match Factory Girl such a magnetic and unforgettable watch. When a late twist sees the film swerve into even darker territory, director Aki Kaurismäki’s twin approaches fuse into one that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Rendered in his characteristic deadpan style, the shocking event becomes sardonically funny — a gutsy move that only a real master of tone, as Kaurismäki is, could pull off.

What stands out

It’s a real and rare treat to watch a film made by artists in such control of their tools as The Match Factory Girl's are. Kaurismäki and his behind-the-scenes collaborators work in total harmony to tell this simple — yet affecting — story with perfect visual concision. Outinen and her castmates walk in the same step, wordlessly conveying with their bodies things that even a book's worth of dialogue might struggle to articulate. Together, their note-perfect work makes The Match Factory Girl a masterpiece of filmmaking economy.

Comments

Add a comment

Your name

Your comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

The Guilty (2018)

A minimalist, razor-sharp thriller that will have you gasping for air.

9.0

System Crasher (2019)

A tale of trauma and one of the most talked about movies on Netflix in 2020.

9.0

Shadows in Paradise (1986)

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

7.5

The Man Without a Past (2002)

Compassionate filmmaking and wry humor make this another delightful, heartwarming watch from Finland’s powerhouse director

8.0

Tour de Pharmacy (2017)

A breezy send-up of cycling’s doping scandal and a gloriously silly comedy in its own right

7.7

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A star-studded and riveting legal drama with a blockbuster feel.

8.1

Forgotten Love (2023)

The stunning third take of the classic Polish pre-war melodrama

7.7

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Shyamalan meets Black Mirror in this hugely entertaining, visually inventive apocalyptic thriller with a killer ending

8.2

Wind River (2017)

Sicario's screenwriter directs this story of murder in an Indigenous reserve

9.4

Incendies (2011)

Part melodrama, part war thriller, Incendies is gorgeous and heartbreaking from the first scene

9.9

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.