It begins like a road movie. When the local mine is closed, Taisto (Turo Pajala) takes his redundancy pay and his father's parting gift - a snow-white Cadillac convertible - and sets off across Finland headed nowhere in particular. Soon relieved of his money, he drifts into a few days work on the docks, and then into a relationship with Irmeli (Haavisto) and her young son. In a similarly abstracted manner the film goes through the motions of social realism, and subsequently the conventions of the prison drama, but retains the stripped-down style and cool existentialism of the road movie long after the Cadillac is sold and the journey is waylaid. With restraint worthy of Bresson, Kaurismäki defuses the dramatics, but explodes our preconceptions. Fades to black punctuate scenes of immaculate simplicity, photographed impeccably by Timo Salminen. There is an obvious affinity, too, with Jim Jarmusch's work; the prevailing gloom is undercut by the music, kitsch pop and Finnish tango, and a sense of humour dry as a Buñuelian martini.