The Man Without a Past (Mies vailla menneisyyttä )

The man without a past
A welder M, played by Markku Peltola, turns up in Helsinki looking for work, dies in hospital after getting beaten by muggers but is then reborn as a man with no memory and joins a community of homeless folk living in polished contentment in empty container units. But this is not a film of a man trying to find out who he is (or was) but rather of a man trying to make a future for himself.  He finds friendship among the homeless and destitute and love with a melancholy Salvation Army worker, Irma (Kati Outinen). The government won’t help him because he has no name and no papers, so he helps himself. From the start, he continuously improves his condition. He plants potatoes next to his container and prepares for the winter. He also teaches the Salvation Army band to play spirited tunes (along the lines of “Sister Act”). “M” plays with the interesting theme of getting another chance to begin life again. We gradually see him going from a loner to becoming a part of the community.

It is the second installment in Kaurismäki’s Finland trilogy, the other two films being Drifting Clouds (1996) and Lights in the Dusk (2006). What we have here is a political allegory for our times, in which big business and the equipment of capitalism are shown as dehumanising forces of evil. The film can best be appreciated when its sly humor is at work without inhibitions. It’s a quirky film that will not suit every one’s taste, but should please those who can live with the droll acting and the Charlie Chaplin ‘silent film’ humor. What sets this film apart from other idiosyncratic adventures is its internal coherence (both in terms of storytelling and visual style) as well as the humanity of its characters.

Imdb link :


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