The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki ★★★½

TIFF16 Film#5

Reason for pick – Premise and timeslot.

So Finland has more directors than just the Kaurismäki brothers? Who knew?

This true story about a modest young Finnish boxer, the first ever Finn to have a shot at a world title, is filled to the brim with wholesome sweetness. Never saccharine and never plucking at heartstrings, director Juho Kuosmanen tells the simple tale in the way of the man himself, Olli Maki. You don’t laugh, cry, or even cheer, you just quietly smile, and maybe have a little chuckle once in a while.

Jarkko Lahti brings the humble Maki to life with warmth, charm, and believability. Likewise first feature actress Oona Airola renders a delightful Riaja, the apple of Maki’s eye. There is a special chemistry between the two, and Maki’s new love for her is manifest; especially when she isn’t near.

Kuosmanen and Cinematographer Jani-Petteri Passi create a wonderfully intimate 60’s documentary look with their grainy black and white 16mm photography.

One of those tiny gems that shows that less sometimes really can be more.

Jonathan liked these reviews