Kaurismaki's 1991 film Zombie and the Ghost train, to which Ozzy's lonely lament forms the coda. Here's what we had to say about the DVD a while back. After that, the closing scene itself, about which we appear to have waxed rather lyrically in the original review for Film4.
Something about those bitter Finnish nights chilled out the early work of the brothers Kaurismäki but it never froze their hearts. From the early 1980s and into the mid-1990s when Mika Kaurismaki relocated to sunny Brazil, he and his better known brother Aki mined a dry, mordant, tragic-comic sensibility in a series of films about aimless failures and passive losers adrift in the suicide capital of northern Europe.
Zombie And The Ghost Train from 1991 remains Kaurismäki Sr's most successful film and its odd blend of darkly absurd comedy and haunting fatalism suggests Withnail & I meeting Leaving Las Vegas in a Helsinki bar to watch Louis Malle's drink 'n' death drama Le Feu Follet while Jim Jarmusch gets the beers in.
Zombie is the shambling, cadaverous musician who looks like he's been fired from Finnish glam-rockers Hanoi Rocks and then remade as Edward Scissorhands. Returning home after a hopeless stint of national service, Zombie lives a skeletal existence in the chilly lock-up which he shares with his Hendrix poster, his bass guitar and a steady supply of vodka. Marjo (Leinonen) is the girl with whom he has a thing, and Zombie's friend Harri (Pellonpää) leads a comically earnest country and western band called Harri And Mulefukkers.
Like the young Jarmusch, Kaurismäki has a steady eye for restless hipster misfits. Also familiar from early Jarmusch is the deadpan tone and cheerfully sloppy plotting. Frankly puzzling though - perhaps purposefully so - is the faintly fantastical presence of mysterious rock band The Ghost Train, who give Zombie a lift at the start of the film and later spring him from hospital after another near-fatal bender. In the light of what's to come, it's tempting to cast them as Zombie's rock 'n' roll guardian angels.
Zombie And The Ghost Train is about a musician who can longer hit the right note, and Kaurismäki weaves music into the very fabric of the film. Most of the performers (including Seppälä and Leinonen) are musicians rather than professional actors and the story was inspired by Seppälä's own roadie flatmate. Following Zombie through the film - just as Erik Satie's 'Gymnopédies' wound their way through Le Feu Follet - is Black Sabbath's sorrowful dirge 'Solitude', the young Ozzy articulating - for once - all the languid, hopeless impulses which Kaurismäki can't always locate in the drama.
Stumbling through the snow from bar to bar or drinking his way towards oblivion alone, Zombie is bent out of shape and fits in nowhere. The death of his father barely registers, and when finally he's exhausted all Helsinki's charity, he disappears to Istanbul, where Europe gives way to Asia and where Zombie gives in to fate.
It's at this point that the film is suddenly transformed into an eerie reverie about a doomed drinker cast adrift by depression, Kaurismäki turning Istanbul into a smog-smothered dream city full of melancholic ghosts through which the wraith-like Zombie drifts endlessly in search of raki and who knows what the hell else.
It's only here at the end that Zombie ever looks at home, the final sequence arriving at a semi-mystical conclusion that wrestles the film away from comedy and recasts Zombie's plight in a terrible yet tender new light. It's a moment of strange yet perfectly pitched closure that grants this otherwise ramshackle, downbeat film a lingering power.