The Horror Honeys: Never Push a Woman to Her Breaking Point...

Never Push a Woman to Her Breaking Point...

A Revenge Honey Classic Review by Linnie

The Match Factory Girl (1990)

In the revenge genre, there are very few exceptional films about women who are simply fed up with the shit hands life has dealt them, and choose to rebel. Of course, you have more than your share of Kill Bills and I Spit on Your Graves, where some horrible catalyst propels women into violent acts of revenge. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about films in which women are beaten down by the every day circumstances of their lives, and simply reach their breaking point. The gold standard for this very specific subgenre is of course, Thelma & Louise. However, my personal favorite is Aki Kaurismäki's The Match Factory Girl...

And I can't believe it's taken me this long to share it with you.

The Story: Iiris is a young woman with absolutely no life to speak of. She works long, arduous hours in a match factory just to hand over her entire paycheck to her mother and her mother's lazy boyfriend. Because she is plainer than the other girls, on her rare night out, she is usually left sitting all by her lonesome. But then, one magical night, an attractive man pays some attention to her and takes her home. However, he isn't the knight-in-shining-armor she thought, and when she finds herself pregnant, he wants nothing to do with her. As Iiris' life falls apart, and she reaches her breaking point, a lovely little bottle of rat poison proves to be just the answer she was looking for.

I've been on blind dates with conservative NRA members that were less awkward...
Writer/director Kaurismäki is well-known in his native Finland for his Proletariat Trilogy, of which The Match Factory Girl is the final film. Kaurismäki's movies are exceptional examples of minimalism, gorgeous artifacts of an experimental period of filmmaking in which focus was put less on script and more visuals, be them scenery or just what a skilled actor was able to convey with their eyes. In fact, there is so little actual dialogue in Girl that is could almost be considered silent, and yet you are never less than 100% enthralled in Iiris' journey of self-discovery. Much of this is due to the remarkable abilities of Kati Outinen, the actress who plays Iiris. But it is as much the result of Kaurismäki's skill at hypnotizing his audience that makes The Match Factory Girl what it is.

There is also something deliciously disorienting about the way that Kaurismäki makes you more than a just a spectator to Iiris' life. As the film begins, you follow her through her days, all of which blend together in a depressing series of slights, indignities, and abuses. But just as you're about to break down and lose patience with all of the horrible people in Iiris' life... she does too. And this is when The Match Factory Girl becomes a darkly humorous morality play about a woman driven to her absolute limit. And even while it remains the same quiet, delicate film it has always been, you become even more a part of Iiris' journey as it reaches its inevitable conclusion.


If you prefer your revenge films loaded with blood, gore, and violence, The Match Factory Girl won't be for you. But if you appreciate a movie about an everyday woman in very typical circumstances who takes control of her life in a way that is anything but typical, then you will love The Match Factory Girl as much as I do.

Revenge Honey Rating: 5 bottles of rat poison out of 5

The Match Factory Girl is available on Hulu Plus, YouTube, & Criterion Collection DVD as part of the Proletariat Trilogy

Do you have a favorite "mad as hell & I'm not going to take it anymore" revenge film?
Tell me on Twitter: @linnieloowho