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NewCityNet Film Tip of the Week

"Junk Mail" delivers.

By Ray Pride

MAY 11, 1998:  We haven't heard from Aki Kaurismaki in a while, the laconic Finnish filmmaker whose losers sleepwalk mirthlessly through a comic nightmare of toil and drudgery. Pal Sletaune, while Norwegian, partakes of some of the same deadpan in "Junk Mail," his sly, marvelous black comedy of a postman tumbling into trouble. Roy (Robert Skjaerstad) is one of the most passive characters you'll ever see, a raggedy rat of a man who could walk into fortune or love but instead stumbles repeatedly into bizarre situations he can't extricate himself from. Oslo is shown as a dingy, cold, wet place, suited to this rings-around-the-eyes loser whom we glimpse earlier on trashing junk mail under a railroad overpass. One day, a woman leaves her keys in her mailbox and Roy goes into her apartment, snooping, peeping, loitering. He's not an active pervert or stalker, he's just curious. Sletaune has said that Roy is "one of the invisible, the unlucky and the insignificant, the guy you don't notice until he crashes into the seat next to you, drunk and quarrelsome. But no matter what, you begin to like him." He saves the woman's life, a chunk of the Oslo underworld wants to beat him senseless, he follows the world around like a beaten-down puppydog, even down to the perfect conclusion. 89m.

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