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DARKNESS IN TALLINN (CITY UNPLUGGED) (director: Ilkka Järvi-Laturi; screenwriter: Paul Kolsby; cinematographer: Rein Kotov; editor: Christopher Tellefsen; music: Mader; cast: Ivo Uukkivi (Tovio), Milena Gulbe (Maria), Monika Mäge (Terje), Enn Klooren (Mihhail), Väinö Laes (Andres), Peeter Oja (Dimitri), Jüri Järvet (Anton), Villem Indrikson (Kallas), Andres Raag (Contreras, Gerardo); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lasse Saarinen; Filmhaus; 1993-Finland/USA/Sweden/Estonia-in Estonian with English subtitles)
It’s much more than a thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A really good heist film (better than most Hollywood entries). The solid script by Paul Kolsby offers a pleasing sardonic black comedy. Half the film, the part during the robbery, is wonderfully shot in black-and-white by Manhattan residing Finnish filmmaker Ilkka Järvi-Laturi (“Spy Games”/”Homebound”/”History is Made at Night”). When the lights come on, the film goes into color. “Tallinn” was made in Estonia, a former Soviet country, in its exotic but sinister locales. The noir photography by Rein Kotov is spot-on.

We learn that during WW II Estonia sent its gold reserves to a Paris bank for security. Fifty years later, in 1991, the new state of Estonia requests back its $970 million in gold. This interests the ruthless Russian mafia, who plan to steal it from the central bank located in the capital at Tallinn. Their plan is to shut down the electric grid to the city of Tallinn. The thieves scheme to break into the central bank, storing the gold, and then transport the gold to a nearby cigarette factory, where it will be melted down, packaged as golden cigarettes and exported. The mafia hire colorful locals to carry out the operation. One of them is the reluctant Toivo (Ivo Uukkivi), an impoverished young electrician who in a prior crime helped the gang in a caviar-smuggling operation. Toivo’s wife Maria (Milena Gulbe) is seven months pregnant, while he’s assigned to disconnect the electrical circuits in the power plant.

It’s much more than a thriller, as the film gives one a good picture of the region’s dire political situation, its vast poverty, the heartless criminal gangs that operate there and Estonia’s lack of good work opportunities.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”