A Frenchman (Leaud), sacked without warning from his civil service clerical job at the waterworks when the company is privatised. Utterly alone and friendless in his hideous flat, he decides to die at the hand of an assassin but, having paid for the contract, he falls in love with a flower seller (Clarke) and is plunged into dramatic events as he attempts to cancel his death.
The movies of Aki Kaurismaki grow yet curiouser and curiouser. It has, of course, become something of a parlour game to spot the familiar trademarks - the bleak landscapes, the black humour, the ironic eye for tiny but telling details, the overwhelming sense of the absurd. Even so, this decidely odd tragi-comic romance, made in English and on location in London, still asks for a large suspension of disbelief.
It's a nice idea, especially the parallel story of the dedicated killer, but the film is filled with improbabilities, not the least of which is Leaud himself as both actor and character - although the casting of veteran Serge Reggiani as the owner of a hamburger hut in the middle of a Hampstead cemetery, is a rare delight - and while it is fascinating to see the less attractive sides of London's landscape through the eyes of this highly original cult director and his permanent cameraman, it is ultimately difficult to get a grip on exactly what he's up to here.
A curious misfire from Ari Kaurismaki, but the london locations are shot with a fresh eye.