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Cass' review of
The Man Without a Past


The Man Without a Past (2002)
Rated PG-13; running time 97 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Fantasy/Drama/Romance
Written by: Aki Kaurismaki
Directed by: Aki Kaurismaki
Cast: Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Annikki Tahti, Juhani Niemela, Kaija Pakarinen, Sakari Kuosmanen, Aino Seppo

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

"If you see me facedown in the gutter, turn me on my back." -- Electrician

CASS' CLIP (WARNING: **spoilers below**)
If I say too much about The Man Without a Past, you'll miss the movie's charm. So, I'll simply say this movie is a story about three thugs, a nameless man (Markku Peltola) with amnesia, a melancholy woman (Kati Outinen), a ruthless landlord, an attack dog, a bank robbery, a jukebox, a rock band, the Helsinki waterfront, the Salvation Army, community, friendship, love, and a sense of optimism.

When the nameless man's past catches up with him, will he go back to a life he has no memory of or will he make a future with the present he currently knows?

DA 411
Aki Kaurismaki has written and directed a pretty peculiar movie. In fact, earlier this year, The Man Without a Past was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. But let me warn you ahead of time, if you're not into unconventional, light-hearted and quick-witted dry humor, then don't waste your money or time seeing The Man Without a Past. On the other hand, if you like odd movies with a hint of a message (not those preachy kind of movies), you may enjoy this little independent film. Initially, I thought to myself, "What da heck am I looking at?" But when the unusual tone of The Man Without a Past slowly plotted its course, it started to appeal to my own strange sense of humor. I also must admit that I don't know if I liked The Man Without a Past more because it was a foreign film, because I'm positive I would've dogged this movie if it had been done by Hollywood standards.

Okay, the amnesia premise is not an original plot, but Kaurismaki and a cast of oddballs, somehow managed to stay true to his vision. "My social, economical and political views of the state of society, morals and love can hopefully be found from the film itself," Kaurismaki explains in his director's statement. Markku Peltola is superb as the memory impaired man without a past. His matter-of-fact demeanor and deadpan facial expressions just cracked me up. Kati Outinen was the perfect actress to play opposite Peltola's character. If you overlook the fact that her character is in desperate need of a makeover from one of the reality shows, and concentrate on the temperament and sensitivity she brings to her role, you'll fall in love with her. The remaining cast members are equally entertaining and it's delightful to watch their onscreen interactions.

Some might ask, "How can you have a future if you can't remember your past?" In The Man Without a Past, the message is (well, at least, the way I interpreted things), sometimes a case of amnesia can be a miracle or a blessing in disguise.

The Man Without a Past is a tragic comedy with a bright future!


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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed 8/22/03):

Cass' reviews:
The Man Without A Past

The Diva's reviews:
The Medallion | My Boss's Daughter

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