The Man Without a Past ★★★★½

From my TIFF 2002 reviews:

THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST is an Aki Kaurismaki film. For those who have seen Aki's films before, that's a long enough review. Based on previous Kaurismaki viewings you're either a fan or you're not. Kaurismaki's unique Finnish comedies all share a certain sensibility that I quite like: underplayed characters deliver underplayed dialogue within whacked-out but simple plots. In MAN WITHOUT A PAST we get an amnesiac mugging victim trying to build a new life. The characters are all quietly heroic, eccentric, amiable and dignified. The film is charming and amusing. Kaurismaki flicks hava history of showing up at rep theatres in Toronto. We can hope this one will follow suit.


MAN WITHOUT A PAST reminded me a lot of one of two Swedish films I just saw in Montreal. MARRIAGE DERAILED was a half hour short that tells the story of two train conductors who meet daily for 3 minutes when their trains are concurrently in the one station their routes share. It all starts with a friendly smile one day, with escalating communication, then gifts given on subsequent meetings. With only enough time each day to imagine more than actually have a relationship, we watch as the infatuation buds, blossoms, and prematurely withers. It was all quite sweetly done, and a memorable film. At half an hour though, where will it ever play again? Maybe on a new digital cable channel for half hour long charming Swedish shorts? Maybe...