The Man Without a Past

The Man Without a Past ★★★½

Well, that was much more tender and heartfelt than I expected! So, I guess I’ll just be watching Kaurismäki’s Finland Trilogy in reverse, because when I saw Lights in the Dusk, I wasn’t aware of it being the third entry in a trilogy, and since it and this film are leaving the Criterion Channel this month, I had to see them both first. If you saw my review for ‘Lights’, you will remember that I was not a fan, but this little humanistic fable landed much more favorably for me.

There isn’t really all that much to say here; this is definitely a film you want to go into blind, but I was just so pleasantly surprised how uplifting and sweet this film is! Gone is the subconscious masochism of The Match Factory Girl (although thankfully, the fantastic needle drops remain), and prior to the sad-sack suckfest that would close the Finland Trilogy some four years later, The Man Without a Past proves wittily hilarious at times and poignantly empathetic at others. While I’m still warming up to Aki’s style, there’s no denying his master craftsmanship. Even in ‘Lights’ it was easy to recognize his genius as keenly visual, and that visual sense is present here, but we also get some warm moments of genuine caring and compassion, along with a handful of great laughs. I don’t often find many comedies all that funny—it is the hardest genre to pull off, if you ask me—but this picture really does pack some dry and awkwardly hilarious lines and sequences into a well told story of human resilience and droll romance; I really enjoyed it.

Jerry McGlothlin liked these reviews