Based on a much-filmed Finnish novel from 1911: a farmer's wife is seduced into running away from her stolid, older husband Juha by a city slicker, who enslaves her in a brothel. This plot is an ideal vehicle for Kaurismäki's riotous miserabilism - dour characters in dire situations - but for once the glum Finn goes beyond one-note comedy. He shoots it as a neo-silent movie and turns it into a sophisticated reflection on the evolution of silent cinema, from its heavily intertitled, melodramatic beginnings to the rarely equalled visual expressiveness of its maturity. (The soundtrack similarly evolves from a musical base, gradually adding sound effects and then a fragment of sync-sound as a woman sings.) The result curiously resembles parts of Twin Peaks, but it plays as an oblique indictment of the mediocrity of most modern cinema.