Aki Kaurismäki is one of my favourite directors. The first time I saw Match Factory Girl in the 1990s I was blown away by it’s bleak minimalism, I was hooked.
Kaurismäki is known for his extremely minimalistic style. He has been called an auteur, since he writes, directs, produces and usually edits the films himself, and thus introduces his personal “drollery and deadpan” style. The dialogue is famously laconic: the articulation is unadorned, direct and in strict standard language, without showing much emotion or drama. Characters frequently stand still and recite the dialogue as if it consisted of eternal truths or nothing at all. These characters rarely smile, nod sadly, and smoke constantly. The camera is usually still. Events are shown in a plain manner and characters are usually left alone facing the consequences. However, despite their tragedies and setbacks, the characters don’t give up and eventually survive. Read more on Wikipedia.
In 2011 I travelled to Helsinki and had the pleasure of touring his film studio and getting absolutely plastered in his Soviet style vodka bar.
Le Havre is one of his more recent works, and his second french language film, but of course, still stars Kati Outinen, who features in most of his films. She is the original Match Factory Girl.
The proletariat trilogy (Finnish)