Fallen Leaves [Finland]

Released 2023

SUNDAY 21 JULY 2024 – 10.00 am
TUESDAY 23 JULY 2024 – 8.15 pm
RUNNING TIME 81 minutes


Two lost souls meet by chance in the Helsinki night and then try, in turbulent times, to find friendship.

Review: Peter Bradshaw

Fallen Leaves is another of Aki Kaurismäki’s beguiling and delightful cinephile comedies, featuring foot-tapping rock’n’roll. It’s romantic and sweet-natured, in a deadpan style that in no way undermines or ironises the emotions involved and with some sharp things to say about contemporary politics.

Ansa (Alma Pöysti) is a woman who works in a supermarket on an exploitative zero-hours contract, and resents that part of her job is to throw away perfectly good food at the end of the day; a sullen security guard clocks her giving stuff like this to desperate hungry people, and she is fired for trying to take home an expired sandwich.

Later Ansa finds herself in a karaoke bar where she meets a construction worker called Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), and there is a heart-melting connection between these two lonely people. They go on a very successful date to the cinema, although a subsequent series of terrible mishaps means that their relationship could be doomed – and here Kaurismäki may intend us to appreciate a filmic echo with An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Moreover, Holappa is a drinker, perhaps an alcoholic, and the booze brings out a nasty side. Idiotically, he doesn’t quite appreciate that drink is imperilling his chance at happiness with his soulmate.

There’s something else too: periodically the characters will turn on the radio for the news (no one appears to have anything as modern as a smartphone or even a TV – the action could as well be happening in the early 60s); this is all about the Russian attack on Ukraine, which fills the listener with resentment, depression and defiance. And undoubtedly Kaurismäki intends us to realise something very specific: Finland is on the border with Russia. Fear of Putinism is not the distant matter it might be in the UK, America or even Germany: for Finland, Putin’s troops are very close by. The war is clouding Finland’s sense of wellbeing, but Finns are still intent on carrying on.

Fallen Leaves is a film with a big heart, and absurd and cartoony as it may be, it fills you with a feelgood glow

Source: www.theguardian.com Peter Bradshaw 30/11/23 Edited extracts ~ accessed 1/6/23