Shadows in Paradise established Kaurismäki’s international reputation, and was voted one of the best films of the decade in a major critics’ poll. Fassbinder’s influence, particularly that of The Merchant of Four Seasons, is amply evident in this melancholy comedy about a garbage truck driver (Matti Pellonpää) — “Bad teeth, bad stomach, liver hanging on. That’s more than I can say for my head,” as he resignedly sums himself up — who falls in love with a supermarket cashier (played by Kaurismäki’s ur-actress, Kati Outinen). Weary of the world and wary of each other, the downtrodden lovers run away after she revenges herself upon her employer, their erratic affair played out in bingo parlours and cramped hotels with a backbeat of ’50s rockabilly and tango. Kaurismäki’s sympathy for the articulate and the wounded, combined with a striking visual sense, makes for an exhilarating experience.