Aki Kaurismäki wowed Cannes with this lyrical tale of a down-and-out amnesiac who builds a home for himself in the slums of Helsinki. M (Markku Peltola) is left for dead by a group of thugs who steal his money and radio, waking up inside a hospital with a broken nose and no recollection of his name or his past. With the help of his needy neighbors, M begins a new life and falls for a Salvation Army soldier (Cannes Best Actress winner Kati Outinen) who feeds and dresses him. Given the film’s minimalist framing and Felliniesque expressiveness, Kaurismäki would have made an excellent silent filmmaker. Though his engagement of silent idiom recalls Chaplin, his leisurely pacing brings to mind Jarmusch, who appeared in Aki’s popular Leningrad Cowboys Go America and his brother Mika’s Helsinki-Naples All Night Long and Tigrero: A Film That Was Never Made. This deadpan romantic comedy grows progressively more appealing as it moves along, and though any number of scenes from the film could count as some of the wittiest of the year, the overall patchwork lacks emotional resonance.
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