La Vie de Bohème

by Aki Kaurismäki

La Vie de Bohème


Rodolfo, a refugee from Albania and a great painter, Marcel, a great French poet, and Schaunard, a great Irish composer, become acquainted by chance while chasing each on the same battlefield, by every imaginable means, a beast called the fivefranc coin. They cannot take more than ten steps on the boulevards without meeting an acquaintance, or thirty steps, wherever, without encountering a creditor. This melancholy comedy – which, incidentally, is actually a melodrama – tells of their life, especially in relation to Mimi and Musette, two country belles lost in the maelstrom of the big city, and to more commonplace characters, such as the landlord and immigration officers.

Their daily subsistence calls for brilliant virtuosity; these men could get Harpagon to lend them money and would find champignons on the raft of Medusa. When necessary, they can adhere to abstinence as well as any hermit, but if even so much as a pittance comes to hand, they will at once be seen driving the most expensive steeds of caprice, drinking the best and the oldest, with never enough windows from which to throw money into the street.

A special language is spoken in the film, borrowed from the prattle in artists’ studios, the backstage argot of the theatre and newspaper editorial offices. Pitch words of all styles can be encountered in this strange dialect; turns from Revelations appear next to plain gibberish, the vulgarity of rustic speech combines with skilful sentence periods that might have been turned on Cyrano’s lathe. The vocabulary of the bohemians is the hell of old rhetoric and the paradise of linguistic reformation, or vice versa. The plot of the film is so complicated that a committee should be appointed to disentangle it. Potential female viewers are recommended to supply themselves with handkerchiefs, for the ending of the film may be the saddest since “Waterloo Bridge“.


Aki Kaurismäki, writer, director, editor and producer. Born in Finland 4.4.1957, but...

Films as a director:

»The Saimaa Gesture«
(Co-Dir. with Mika Kaurismäki)

»Crime And Punishment«

»Calamari Union«

»Shadows In Paradise«
»Rocky VI« (Short)

»Hamlet Goes Business«
»Thru The Wire« (Short)
»L.A.Woman« (Short)
»Rich Little Bitch« (Short)


»Leningrad Cowboys Go America«
»Dirty Hands« (TV Film)

»The Match Factory Girl«
»I Hired A Contract Killer«

»Those Were The Days« (Short)
»These Boots« (Short)

»La Vie De Boheme«

»Total Balalaika Show - Helsinki Concert« (Documentary)

»Take Care Of Your Scarf - Tatjana«
»Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses«

»Drifting Clouds«


»The Man Without A Past«, »Dogs Have No Hell« (Short)

»Bico« (Short)

»Lights In The Dusk«


Matti Pellonpää
Evelyne Didi
André Wilms
Kari Väänänen
Christine Murillo
Jean-Pierre Léaud


Producer: Aki Kaurismäki
Script: Aki Kaurismäki
Camera: Timo Salminen
Sound: Jouko Lumme, Timo Linnasalo
Editing: Veikko Aaltonen
A production of Sputnik Oy

Technical Data

Format: 35 mm / black and white
Length: 100 min.
Original language: French

Original title: La vie de Boheme

La Vie de Bohème
La Vie de Bohème

Go back