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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Fallen Leaves (M) - 81 minutes

Love comes in many different guises.

 

Finnish writer and director Aki Kaurismäki (The Other Side of Hope) brings us the surprising story of two lost souls.

 

Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) is a metalworker at an industrial site. He smokes. He also drinks … a lot, including when he is on the job. He shares shipping container lodgings with an older worker, Houtari (Janne Hyytiäinen).

 

Ansa Grönholm (Alma Pöyst) works at a supermarket. Diligent, the payment she receives is not exactly flash, so she has been known to pocket the occasional out of date item. She lives by herself in a small, tidy apartment. 

Houtari convinces a reluctant Holappa to have a night out at a karaoke bar because the former fancies himself as a crooner.

 

After performing a song, he tries to pick up a lady, Liisa (Nuppu Koivu), who has come to the pub with her friend, Ansa, but Liisa shuts him down.

 

At the same time, Holappa eyes off Ansa.

 

Nothing is said then. Still, circumstances see Holappa and Ansa come across each other again and even go on an awkward date.

 

But the path to happiness is paved with rocks, both personally and professionally.

Deadpan delivery and black humour are the hallmarks of this compelling comedic drama.

 

The focus is on two decidedly nondescript individuals for whom life has provided little.

 

In short, both seem to be living – if you can even call it that – an endless, hand to mouth existence.

 

He acknowledges his depression.

 

She simply seems to accept her lot.

 

Even though he doesn’t appear to offer much, she finds a spark.

 

Fallen Leaves features a series of punctuated conversations, which suit the style of the film perfectly.

The actors take to their task with aplomb. 

 

I can only think of one scene where there is even the hint of a smile. 

 

Otherwise, everyone plays the straight man or woman, as the case may be.

 

And there is no avoiding Kaurismäki’s pointed social commentary on the destructive Russia Ukraine war. There is no getting away from it on the radio news.

 

Fallen Leaves paints a bleak but powerful portrait of struggle.

 

Rated M, it scores an 8½ out of 10.

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