2 Best Movies to Watch From Villealfa Filmproductions

Staff & contributors

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.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari, Kati Outinen, Klaus Heydemann, Outi Mäenpää, Reijo Taipale, Richard Reitinger, Silu Seppälä, Vesa Vierikko

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

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.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Aki Kaurismäki, Esko Nikkari, Haije Alanoja, Jaakko Talaskivi, Jukka Mäkinen, Jukka-Pekka Palo, Kati Outinen, Kylli Köngäs, Mari Rantasila, Mato Valtonen, Matti Pellonpää, Neka Haapanen, Olli Varja, Pekka Laiho, Safka Pekkonen, Sakari Kuosmanen, Sakke Järvenpää, Svante Korkiakoski

Director: Aki Kaurismäki