The Match Factory Girl

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The Match Factory Girl
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Produced by Aki Kaurismäki
Klas Olofsson
Written by Aki Kaurismäki
Starring Kati Outinen
Cinematography Timo Salminen
Edited by Aki Kaurismäki
Distributed by Kino International (United States)
Release dates
12 January 1990
Running time
68 minutes
Country Finland
Language Finnish
Box office SEK 131,180 (Sweden)

The Match Factory Girl (Finnish: Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö) is a 1990 Finnish-Swedish film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, the final installment of his Proletariat Trilogy, after his Shadows in Paradise and Ariel.[1] It follows Iiris, a young, plain-looking factory worker living a lonely, impoverished and uneventful life in late 1980s Finland. Iiris is played by Kati Outinen, who had appeared in a number of other Kaurismäki films.[2]


Iiris is a rather plain woman who lives with and helps support her mother and stepfather. She has a hard time attracting men, but one evening at the local dance club she meets Aarne, who thinks she's a prostitute, although Iiris does not realize that. They spend the night together, and Iiris falls in love with Aarne, but he never calls. When she confronts him at his house a few days later, Aarne agrees to take Iiris out for dinner the next night. At dinner, Aarne tells Iiris that they have no future together.

Iiris finds out she is pregnant, but doesn't tell her family. She writes a letter to Aarne, thinking he might want to help raise the child. She goes to his workplace, hands him the letter, and leaves. Soon thereafter, Iiris receives a letter from Aarne that simply says, "Get rid of the brat." The letter also includes a check for 10,000 marks. Iiris becomes distraught and goes outside, leaving the letter and check on the table, where her mother finds them. While wandering around upset, Iiris is hit by a car and she has a miscarriage. Her stepfather visits Iiris in the hospital and tells her she must move out of the apartment, because she has disappointed her mother.

Iiris moves in with her brother and becomes more despondent and upset with her situation. She buys rat poison, mixes it with water, and puts it into a small bottle, which she puts into her purse. She goes to Aarne's apartment and tells him she wants a drink. Aarne brings the drinks, but Iiris asks for ice, and when Aarne goes to get it, Iiris pours some of the rat poison into his drink. When Aarne returns with the ice, he places it in Iiris's glass. She tells him that everything is taken care of and that he need not worry, because this will be the last time he will ever see her. She hands him the check he'd sent, quickly drinks most of her drink, and leaves. Aarne sits quietly for a few moments, then he drinks his drink.

On the way home from Aarne's place, Iiris stops into a bar, orders a beer, takes a seat at the bar, and starts to read a book. A man sits beside her, uninvited, and tries to catch her attention. Iiris smiles at the man, takes the bottle of rat poison out of her purse, and pours some into his glass. She leaves, and the man finishes his drink.

Iiris visits her mother and stepfather. She prepares them a meal and pours the rest of the rat poison into the water they will drink. While they eat, Iiris sits in the living room smoking a cigarette and listening to music. After a while she gets up to look into the dining room, where she sees her mother and stepfather are dead.

The next day at work, Iiris is taken away by the police.


Roger Ebert wrote that he "watched hypnotically. Few films are ever this unremittingly unyielding...What made it more mesmerizing is that it's all on the same tonal level: Iris passively endures a series of humiliations, cruelties and dismissals."[2] He included the film in his 2011 list of greatest movies.



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Ebert, Roger. "The Match Factory Girl (1990)"., 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2012.

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