The Man Without a Past is another understated, idiosyncratic, and hilarious offering from Aki Kaurismäki. A man (Markku Peltola) suffers amnesia after being violently attacked while napping on a park bench. A poor, kindhearted family nurses him back to health and introduces him to the social services of the Salvation Army, and to the shy and compassionate Irma (Kati Outinen). However, as the nameless man attempts to rebuild his life, he finds that knowledge of his identity is the key to reentering society. Kaurismäki’s usually excessively vibrant colors seem to be a bit more muted in this film, although he retains his penchant for borrowed, incongruous American pop culture and melancholic folk ballads. The film does not have the dark undercurrent of loneliness and alienation of The Match Factory Girl, but instead, like Drifting Clouds, focuses on the tenderness, affection, and humanity of all the socially marginalized characters. A highly accomplished and sensitively realized film.
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