City Unplugged

I wouldn’t want to claim too much for this 1993 Finnish heist film with sardonic and comic touches, directed by Manhattan-based Ikka Jarvilaturi, but thanks to its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, its fine acting and casting, and a better-than-average script by Paul Kolsby, it’s much better as art and as entertainment than, e.g., The Usual Suspects. It’s set in decidedly uncommercial Estonia, where the Russian Mafia conspires to steal a billion dollars in gold that the government has been hiding for years by turning off all the electricity in the city of Tallinn. Sadly, once the electricity is turned on again, the cinematography reverts to color and the film becomes as conventional and boring as The Usual Suspects. But until then it’s a pleasure to watch, and even if it occasionally tries to do too much, that’s still an improvement on the usual Hollywood heist-movie strategy of filling in the blanks. Also known as Darkness in Tallinn. (JR)

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