The Man Without A Past

The Man Without A Past


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Is he a ghost? Is he The Messiah? Is he an unemployed welder having a nervous breakdown?

Mr M (Markku Peltola) arrives in Helsinki from God-knows-where and is beaten up by thugs. He dies in hospital. After a Lazurus-like resurrection, he rises from his bed and escapes into the bitter world.

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He joins the ranks of the destitute, living off charity - in this case, The Salvation Army - and sleeping in a freight container down by the docks. He makes friends with brain damaged tramps and impoverished eccentrics, finds work, redesigns his container to include a juke-box that plays rock-and-roll and asks Irma (Kati Outinen), from The Sally Army, for a date. It's almost - how you say? - cute.

Mr M has lost his memory and found something better. There are messages, written in silver letters on invisible banners, flying above the movie: BECOME A CHILD and start over: REDISCOVER innocence: treat the POOR WITH DIGNITY and thou shalt be rewarded, not in heaven, but in the final reel.

Aki Kaurismäki is the Finnish director who specialises in anarchic comedies that depict life as a series of social and/or emotional disasters in a world distorted by a surreal sense of injustice. His crazy vision is so original that he is forgiven everything - except boredom.

The Man Without A Past is a fable, in which Kaurismaki wanders blithely through a political minefield, as if the second Son of God is a goofy amnesiac, with a friendly dog and interesting culinary habits.

Has the creator of I Hired A Contract Killer gone soft?

Reviewed on: 04 Nov 2002
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The Man Without A Past packshot
An Icelandic man who forgets who he is after a savage beating, has to reconstruct his life.
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Director: Aki Kaurismäki

Writer: Aki Kaurismäki

Starring: Markku Peltola, Kati Outinen, Annikki Tahti, Juhani Niemela, Kaija Pakarinen, Sakari Kuosmanen

Year: 2002

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Finland


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