By Amanda Gilmore
Finnish Writer-Director Aki Kaurismäki is back with his signature deadpan humour in this delightful romance about two lost souls.
Ansa (Alma Pöysti) is a middle-aged woman who goes from job to job. Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) is a middle-aged man who loses work due to drinking on the job. By chance, they meet one night in a bar in Helsinki. However, a subsequent series of terrible mishaps attempts to keep them apart. But that won’t stop them from attempting to be with the first loves of their lives.
Kaurismäki sets this Tragicomedy in the present day and focuses on the working class in Helsinki. When we first meet Ansa, she’s working in a supermarket and takes expired food home with her. This ultimately leads her to be fired and she finds another job that will help cover the bills. Holappa works in construction and spends all his spare time drinking in bars with his colleagues.
There’s a detachment when they lose their jobs. As though they expect these bad things to happen to them, it’s part of their life. Kaurismäki has created a world filled with melancholic characters. Even the men who are drinking in the bars — and there are many bars — appear devoid of hope. There are multiple scenes where the characters turn radios and hear news of the war in Ukraine.
In true Kaurismäki fashion, his deadpan humour succeeds in this world filled with melancholy thanks to his expert Script and his superb casting. Ansa and Holappa’s romance is the spark that both characters need to find joy again. It’s the splash of colour they both needed in their dreary lives and this heavy world. Pöysti and Vatanen deliver intricate deadpan performances and share an undeniable chemistry.
Fallen Leaves is a funny, whimsical tragicomedy that will leave you with a well of feelings.
Fallen Leaves screens at Cannes ’23:
Mon May 22 at 4:45PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue May 23 at 9AM at CINEUM IMAX
Tue May 23 at 12PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Tue May 23 at 4:45PM at LICORNE
Tue May 23 at 5PM at AGNÈS VARDA THEATRE
Wed May 24 at 9AM at CINEUM AURORE
Thu May 25 at 11:30AM at CINEUM SCREEN X
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