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1 October 2017: Crime and Punishment


Crime and Punishment
Aki Kaurismäki
1983 | 93 min | Colour | Digital

““Crime and Punishment is an homage to those golden years when one murder was sufficient for one crime film." (Aki Kaurismäki) An insect on a chopping block is summarily cut in two; the shot widens to reveal a meat-packing plant with its blood-dripping imagery, and on the soundtrack, a relentlessly romantic song (in English): "Softly, my love is calling...fear not." Meet Aki Kaurismäki, cynic-at-large. His first feature transports Dostoevsky to modern-day Helsinki, mercilessly. Crime and Punishment is part gripping policier, with the cat-and-mouse game between Raskolnikov and the Inspector beautifully translated, and part deconstructed melodrama, with music washing out the most dramatic scenes. It is the tale of a disaffected slaughterhouse worker, Rahikainen (Markku Toikka, in a sublimely understated performance), who murders the wealthy businessman/louse who, years ago, destroyed his tenuous hold on life. Sonya to his Raskolnikov is Eeva (Aino Seppo), a bakery shop worker. Rahikainen's brooding indifference (reflected in moody, pointed cinematography by Timo Salminen) is at once compelling and absurd, though most of Kaurismäki's characteristically dark humor is directed at the moral decrepitude of the police. As in the original, the film's sense of pervading guilt has little to do with the murder and everything to do with identity in an age of anxiety. ("Are you Rahikainen?" the cop asks. "In a way," Rahikainen responds). Thus, in giving Rahikainen/Raskolnikov a revenge motive, Kaurismäki takes liberties with Dostoevsky only a little; in utterly refusing him salvation, however, he takes a great deal. Dostoevsky said of his novel, "This is...a contemporary case, something that could only happen in our day..." Kaurismäki seems to be making the same point.” - BAMPFA

Part of our Aki Kaurismäki season