Saturday, March 17, 2012


‘Let’s take taxi, Frank’
‘You got any money, Frank?’
‘No…have you got any?’
‘OK…let’s take taxi.’

During my Masters study, the syllabus of American literature prescribed two brilliant American plays- one was Tennessee Williams’ famous ‘A Street Car Named Desire’. But it was the second one which appealed me more and that was ‘An Iceman Cometh’ by Eugene O’Neill. The play is about number of loser characters passing their time in a bar while sharing their drinks throughout the play and they are waiting for their friend Harry Hope who’ll come one day and help them to pay their debts. Who is Harry? A ‘Hope’ as his later name suggests, a death or just a pipedream! Well, Kaurismaki’s this experimental absurd cult film suddenly reminds me of that existential drama.

The film begins with an absurd premise where a  group of men, all named Frank formed a union with single aim to run away from their home town Helsinki to a place on the other side of the city called Eira. The mock and fragmentary plot lead us towards meaningless journey where all those dark Ray Ban clad Franks roaming in different directions of the city to reach their strange desire of freedom just like characters in bar of O’Neill’s play. On one hand it’s an absolutely unconventional and unexpectedly absurdist  film where characters can be anywhere- riding on a bonnet of car, sleeping in a public phone booth or on the road, jumps from tree and can do anything unexpected or anything possible. And it was irreverent Kaurismaki fun to watch and much of it come from their common name Frank, including that odd English speaking one Frank who keep on mocking ‘Are you talkin’ to me!’ But at the same time there are several meaningful observations of the characters that made us think again about the film towards serious tone.

Kaurismaki in one of interview said that it was one of the lousiest film he ended up making while being either heavily drunk or under hangover. Perhaps, that’s the reason why it becomes so absolutely unexpectedly funny cult one for his audience!


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