Monday 23 September 2013

The Man Without a Past [2002]

The Man without a Past, the second chapter in Kaurismaki’s ‘Finland Trilogy’, was a typically droll, ironic, deftly understated and darkly funny film on the blue-collar and lower strata of Finnish society. The subject was decidedly downbeat, but the treatment was surprisingly bittersweet and poignant despite the sharp, and oftentimes cynical, observations it has been brilliantly laced with. The film begins with a display of schocking brutality when its principal protagonist (Markku Peltola), on arriving in Helsinki, gets savagely beaten up by a group of thugs. The physical injuries he suffers, however, turns out to be minor vis-à-vis the damage his brain is inflicted. Bereft of his memory, identity and past, he starts taking small steps towards rebuilding a semblance of a life at an impoverished section of the city. His tryst with Murphy’s Law, however, continues, most notably when he ends up being holed up during a bank robbery. However, on the other hand, he also gets help, support and empathy from quarters he least expected, in the form of the family that helps him recover from his wounds, the lonely and socially awkward lady (Kati Outinen) he strikes a deep friendship with, etc. In turn, he too plays his bit by allowing a group of rock musicians practice at his dingy place, or, most ironically, helping the bank robber with something that one could never have guessed. Aki drew excellent performances for the portrayal of oddball, marginalized and lonely characters whose bleak existences were superbly juxtaposed with his brand of wry, deadpan humour, while the cold visuals and pop-rock soundtrack added to the film’s melancholy, humanism and affecting simplicity.

Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire
Language: Finnish
Country: Finland

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