The Man Without A Past

A moving story of love and identity from Finland

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Opens January 24, Cert 12A, 97 mins

A man arrives in town. Almost immediately he’s beaten to death. But this is Finland, and our hero is not one to let a fatal blow to the head stop him from going about his business. Except he no longer remembers what his business is. Without an identity or a memory of the past, the man starts to forge a new life, squatting in a disused freight container alongside a community of winos and down-and-outs, and striking up a relationship with a comely Salvation Army officer. He even starts to forge a career as the new manager of the Salvation Army band. This marginal world is perfect territory for director Aki Kaurismaki, steeped in dark comedy and cheap vodka, and littered with the kind of twilight wisdom that comes only when you’ve been drinking for several days straight. Relying heavily on atmospheric silence and stoic stillness, the film is wholly and completely involving. The soundtrack is superb, composed of melancholy drinking ballads and mournful refrains, and the cinematography is spectacular. If there is a more fully realised cinematic vision on show this year, I’d be astonished.


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