Drifting Clouds (film)

Drifting Clouds (Finnish: Kauas pilvet karkaavat) is a 1996 Finnish comedy drama film edited, written, produced, and directed by Aki Kaurismäki and starring Kati Outinen, Kari Väänänen and Markku Peltola. The film is the first in Kaurismäki's Finland trilogy, the other two films being The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk. The film was selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 69th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2][3]

Drifting Clouds
Drifting clouds DVD cover.jpg
Drifting Clouds DVD cover
Directed byAki Kaurismäki
Written byAki Kaurismäki
Produced byAki Kaurismäki
CinematographyTimo Salminen
Edited byAki Kaurismäki
Music byTimo Salminen
Distributed bySputnik
Release date
  • 26 January 1996 (1996-01-26)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
BudgetFIM 5,562,154 (approx. € 935,000)


Ilona Koponen (Kati Outinen), a head waitress at Dubrovnik restaurant, is married to Lauri (Kari Väänänen), a tram driver. They live in a small, modestly furnished apartment in Helsinki. As they come home from work late one night, Lauri surprises Ilona with a television which he purchased on hire purchase. They talk about whether they can meet their financial obligations, but agree that the TV payments are manageable.

Next day, as Lauri gets to work, he learns that the company will be laying off workers due to the non-profitability of certain tram routes and he is randomly chosen as one of those. The day after Lauri has finished his last shift, Ilona is informed by the owner of Dubrovnik that the restaurant is being sold to a chain and that all employees will be let go since the new company will be bringing in its own staff.

Both start looking for work but with discouraging results. Lauri is offered a job as a bus driver but is unable to pass the medical exam and subsequently loses his professional driver's licence. Ilona gets a job at a rundown bar/restaurant which does not even have a name and is owned by a tax-evading crook. After six weeks, the restaurant gets shut down by the government and Ilona is not paid by the dishonest owner.

During their search for employment, Lauri and Ilona have bouts of heavy-drinking, all the while running into former colleagues who have similar difficulties. At one point, the two even sell their car and take the proceedings to a casino in hopes of doubling the money but end up losing it all. Most of their furniture, as well as the new TV that Lauri bought, is repossessed.

One day, Ilona accidentally runs into Mrs Sjöholm (Elina Salo), her former boss. Sjöholm suggests that Ilona open up a restaurant. Since Ilona does not have the means for such a venture, Sjöholm agrees to provide the capital as a loan. Ilona, humbled by her recent experiences, is initially reluctant to accept for fear of the restaurant failing and her not being able to repay Mrs Sjöholm, but eventually agrees.

Ilona names the restaurant Work and hires some of the staff from Dubrovnik, including the troubled chef, Lajunen (Markku Peltola), plus Lauri. Filled with anxiety during a slow lunch hour on opening day, Ilona's worries disappear as she watches the restaurant fill to capacity later the same afternoon. After receiving a call from a Helsinki union asking for a reservation for thirty people, Lauri and Ilona stand on the front steps of the restaurant unable to express their feelings of joy, looking at the skies as more people enter.

Cast and charactersEdit


Critical responseEdit

Although the film was not as widely distributed as an average Hollywood feature and, as a result, was not a commercial success to the same extent, it was well received by film critics worldwide while also winning several major film awards. As of 5 February 2008, the aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes only registered 9 reviews for the film, all of which were positive and averaged a 7.1 rating out of a possible 10.[4] Film critic Roger Ebert awarded the film three-and-a-half stars out of 4, all the while praising Kaurismäki's "subtle irony" and challenging the widely accepted description of Kaurismäki as a minimalist by offering his opinion that the "screen is saturated with images and ideas".[5] Damian Cannon of Movie Reviews UK awarded the film 4 stars out of 5 calling it "an examination of life and how to survive misfortune, unscrupulous characters and your own lack of foresight" and concluding that "Kaurismäki succeeds impressively".[6]




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Drifting Clouds". British Board of Film Classification.
  2. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  3. ^ "39 Countries Hoping for Oscar Nominations". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 13 November 1996. Archived from the original on 9 February 1999. Retrieved 5 October 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ Drifting Clouds, Rotten Tomatoes. Accessed 5 February 2008.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger. Drifting Clouds, Chicago Sun-Times, 10 July 1998. Accessed 5 February 2008.
  6. ^ Cannon, Damian. Kauas pilvet karkaavat (1996)(aka Drifting Clouds): A review by Damian Cannon Archived 1 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Movie Reviews UK, 1997. Accessed 5 February 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Drifting Clouds". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 16 September 2009.
  8. ^ Awards given to Aki Kaurismäki, Orimattila Town Library, 6 March 2008. Accessed 23 February 2009.

External linksEdit