The Man Without a Past

Overview

Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without a Past opens with the title character (Markku Peltola) being savagely beaten. At the hospital he is declared dead, but he sits up and walks out on his own power. He is taken in by a mother and her two sons, discovers an old jukebox that inspires local musicians, and discovers he has skills as a welder. When he becomes unwittingly involved in a bank robbery, and the man is unable to give the police his name, the cops send out feelers trying to figure out the man's identity. Soon ...
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Overview

Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without a Past opens with the title character (Markku Peltola) being savagely beaten. At the hospital he is declared dead, but he sits up and walks out on his own power. He is taken in by a mother and her two sons, discovers an old jukebox that inspires local musicians, and discovers he has skills as a welder. When he becomes unwittingly involved in a bank robbery, and the man is unable to give the police his name, the cops send out feelers trying to figure out the man's identity. Soon his wife appears. The Man Without a Past was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival where it was awarded the Grand Prix, the most storied prize after the Palme D'Or.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
The Man Without a Past tackles many of the same themes as earlier films by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, and does so with the same understated dark humor, but this film finds the Finn at his sunniest and most accessible. It follows the same pattern as Ariel, the film that first brought Kaurismaki to international attention, wherein a man loses everything, meets a woman who restores his sense of hope, and then has it all threatened again as he inadvertently plunges into a criminal enterprise. With Ariel, Kaurismaki plumbed the depths of dark humor, getting laughs from the offhand way he presented a suicide early in the film. While there's an underlying despair to Man Without a Past as well, it never descends into hopelessness. These characters don't need so much to be content, and one believes they might be able to find a little happiness and hold onto it, whether it's derived from having a sparkling jukebox in the middle of one's sparsely furnished hovel, or from believing that your sweet female puppy dog is a vicious beast named "Hannibal," capable of tearing the nose off a man's face. Kaurismaki uses a much brighter palette than he has in the past (and that glowing orange jukebox is a good example). The cast, including Kaurismaki stalwart Kati Outinen do right by the director with their understated performances. The title character's (Markku Peltola) "life after death" experience may be some kind of a dream, but it offers an amusing and extremely satisfying view of humanity.
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
The message, if there must be one, of this marvelous, stubbornly personal movie is that there is a spark in every soul.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
Like the great films of the 1930's and early 40's, it is at once artful and unpretentious, sophisticated and completely accessible, sure of its own authority and generous toward characters and audience alike -- a movie whose intended public is the human race.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
1/2
At the end of The Man Without a Past, I felt a deep but indefinable contentment. I'd seen a comedy that found its humor in the paradoxes of existence, in the way that things may work out strangely, but they do work out.
Chicago Reader - Barbara Scharres
Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki perfects his trademark formula of deadpan humor and arctic circle pathos in this brilliantly ironic 2002 comedy.
Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan
Offers up a subversive comic sensibility, one that somehow combines Buster Keaton's deadpan stare with Frank Capra's tireless optimism and filters them both through a black-ice Finnish point of view. Welcome to Aki World.
Slate
The revered Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki has hit on a way to give you grim social realism and movie-ish sentimentality in one fell swoop. David Edelstein

Like the great films of the 1930's and early 40's, it is at once artful and unpretentious, sophisticated and completely accessible, sure of its own authority and generous toward characters and audience alike -- a movie whose intended public is the human race.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/6/2015
  • UPC: 043396456037
  • Original Release: 2002
  • Source: Sony Pictures Home
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 65,057

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Markku Peltola M
Kati Outinen Irma
Juhani Niemela Nieminen
Kaija Pakarinen Kaisa Nieminen
Sakari Kuosmanen Anttila
Annikki Tahti Charity Shop Manager
Anneli Sauli Coffee Bar Waitress
Elina Salo Shipyard Personnel Manager
Outi Mäenpää Bank Employee
Esko Nikkari Earth Moving Constructor
Pertti Sveholm Police Inspector
Matti Wuori M's Attorney
Aino Seppo M's Wife
Janne Hyytiäinen
Antti Reini
Technical Credits
Aki Kaurismäki Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Nadja Delcos Asst. Director
Outi Harjupatana Costumes/Costume Designer
Timo Linnasalo Editor
Jouko Lumme Sound/Sound Designer
Tero Malmberg Sound/Sound Designer
Markku Pätilä Production Designer
Jukka Salmi Production Designer
Timo Salminen Cinematographer
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