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The Man Without a Past

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Markku Peltola, The Man Without a Past
The Man Without a Past: Marja-Leena Hukkanen

The Man Without a Past

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG-13
runtime:
97 minutes
Limited Release Date:
04/04/03
performer:
Kati Outinen, Markku Peltola
director:
Aki Kaurismaki
distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
author:
Aki Kaurismaki
genre:
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it an A

Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki’s serious sense of social compassion doesn’t get in the way of great dark jokes in The Man Without a Past. In this delicate, deadpan comedy about homelessness — a best-foreign-film Oscar nominee — a man who lost his memory during a mugging (Markku Peltola) creates a new life for himself on the fringes of Helsinki. It’s the fringe-folk who help him: the poor family, living in an abandoned container by the docks, who feed him soup; the shy Salvation Army worker, Irma (Kati Outinen), who feeds him hope.

Irma’s not as dour as she looks, however; no Kaurismäki character ever is. At night, in the privacy of her tiny room, for example, she blares rock & roll on her radio. Indeed, the message, if there must be one, of this marvelous, stubbornly personal movie is that there is a spark in every soul. And that music is as important as soup. And that there is beauty to be found even in the colors of a shanty picked out against the scudding clouds of Helsinki.

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