The Man Without a Past delivers a new edge to the story that stirred viewers all around the world in Drifting Clouds. Without sidestepping bitter issues, one could paint an image of a small country in the North in a touching, amusing, and liberating way.
At the beginning of this new film, a man (Markku Peltola) has travelled to Helsinki in search of work, gets mugged, loses his memory, and has to start completely anew, from scratch. He discovers love (Kati Outinen), and is forced to discover values with which man will not be ashamed to live. A small story about people who still know how to be gentle, an enormous cinematic experience.
The themes contain a translucent beauty, cross-lit in a confusingly rich manner by the direction. In the case of expression, the author takes the biggest risks, and wins. We know, ultimately from Juha (1999), »the last silent movie of the 20th century», that Aki Kaurismäki is a rare breed of a portrayer of »the border area», between the urban and the countryside, the privileged sector of the class society and the margins of Finland, sentenced to anonymity. Kaurismäki’s portrayal of subservience contains dignity (neither pompous nor heavy-hearted), humour, a touch of melancholy (not far removed from the style of Chaplin), and an excellent understanding of the lot of his subjects, a lot that most probably is irrevocably at the »bottom», but one that also possesses its own rebellious delights as well as room for one’s own self. The choice is a proud one, too, as power and domination seem to corrupt always and absolutely. The ethics and style of Aki Kaurismäki are strongly related to several of the giants of cinema who have shown as well an absolute and most boundless respect for man by the creation of such a precise way of expression and such a cinematic style, with respect visible in every frame, through the means of pure cinema.
Aki Kaurismäki has created a film in which the daring and powerful scale of form, colours and means of expression indicates a fine awareness of tradition in relation to both Finnish and European cinema, and a bold new stylistic move in his own world.
April 4, 2003
Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Juhani Niemela,
Kaija Pakarinen, Sakari Kuosmanen
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