The Match Factory Girl
They say that variety is the spice of life. In a continuing attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate each Wednesday review to the stranger side of cinema, the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or in condemnation of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, the flaky, and the freaky, I reluctantly present a movie not so much weird as it is deliberatly “artsy” and foreign. It is, however, the twenty-first, edition of Wednesday Weirdness.
A terrible, boring, pseudo-artistic film, admired by pretentious bobos. The movie is bad, and doesn’t even make up for it by trying to be entertaining.
Kati Outinen stars as Iris. She has a tedious and boring job in a match factory, and no social life. If she lived a couple decades later she’d probably just watch a bunch of movies, and maybe start a blog about them, but in the summer of 1989 that wasn’t an option. Iris lives in a small apartment with her mother and a man who is not her father. Although her mother’s man is certainly neither old nor infirm, she apparently supports them financially.
I’m getting bored again just trying to sum up the plot, so I’m going to speed it up. Iris eventually meets a man at a dance, and goes home with him on the night they meet. She thinks they’re in love, he thinks she’s a prostitute. For a moment around this point I had some hope that the plot would become interesting with the bored and boring Iris deciding to delve into life as a mid-range call-girl, alas, that was not to be, and instead we get treated into a boring and predictable, and more boring, story of a naive heartbroken girl who starts acting a bit crazy.
Some critics have written that the last ten minutes or so, when Iris takes revenge on the world is darkly hilarious. I try not to judge other people’s sense of humor, but these critics are either idiots or liars, because it’s nothing of the sort.
There were a couple things I liked about the movie. In the first half there’s a fair amount of news footage particularly focusing on coverage of the Tienanmen Square massacre, and it was interesting to see how it was covered in Finland. Then there’s the appearance of Iris’ brother (Silu Seppälä). I literally laughed out loud when he and his ridiculous mullet came on screen for the first time. The fact that he’s the closest thing the movie has to a good guy makes it all the better.
This movie is on the short side for a feature clocking in at just under 70 minutes in length, but it seems far, far longer than that. There’s a nugget of an interesting story, and some nice cinematography, but not nearly enough to make the boredom any less bleak and boring.
I suppose it’s entirely possible that the film itself is depressing and boring so that the viewer will appreciate how depressing and boring Iris’ life was, (and I suppose if I’d had to sit through another 20 minutes of this movie I’d probably be thinking that serving director Aki Kaurismäki a tall glass of d-CON, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,) but that’s not something that I’d consider a hallmark of good filmmaking. Maybe it would have worked as a short, but it isn’t one.
There are certainly people out there who claim they like this movie, but as for me, I’d rather spend 70 minutes getting dental work done than sit through this movie again. So I’d advise you to avoid seeing it.