A darkly humorous fable, THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL chronicles, in extreme minimalist fashion, the transformation of an ugly duckling into a killer tigress. Utilizing perhaps only a half-dozen lines of dialogue, Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki relies instead on the lyrics of about a dozen
songs to comment on the action. Like some industrial documentary, the film opens with close-ups of the machinery used in making wooden matches, from the skinning of a section of tree trunk to the packaging and labeling of the bundles. Iris (Kati Outinen) has the deadeningly routine job of making
sure the labels are properly stuck to the cartons. Her home life is as dreary as her job, since she lives in a shabby apartment with her mother (Elina Salo) and stepfather (Esko Nikkari), whom she supports with her meager earnings. All this changes when, one pay day, Iris sees and buys a red
floral print dress; the dress helps her attract a middle-class man (Vesa Vierikko) who, after a one-night stand, wants nothing more to do with her. His callous response when Iris later finds out she is pregant moves her to exact a deadly, deadpan revenge on him and everyone else who has
contributed to the unleavened misery of her existence.
The final installment in Kaurismaki's acclaimed "proletarian trilogy" (the others being SHADOWS IN PARADISE and ARIEL), THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL is a wondrous antidote to the sentimentality of most mainstream films. Kaurismaki's presentation of Helsinki is characteristically grim and anonymous,
either modern and bare or old and shabby. The director, writer, producer and editor of the film, Kaurismaki has described it both as his "revenge on Robert Bresson" as well as a "piece of junk." He has also stated that he is not interested in middle-class family values, but in "losers."
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: NR
- Review: A darkly humorous fable, THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL chronicles, in extreme minimalist fashion, the transformation of an ugly duckling into a killer tigress. Utilizing perhaps only a half-dozen lines of dialogue, Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki relies instead… (more)