The Man Without A Past review

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This Cannes hit is another downcast, deadpan fable of deprivation from Finland's Aki Kaurismäki,director of the quiff-tastic Leningrad Cowboys Go America. This time, the action - well, inaction: our hero is at his most animated when rolling cigarettes - centres on a nameless man (Markku Peltola) who, having been beaten senseless, wakes up and finds himself among the homeless in Helsinki harbour.

Having no memory, he has to rebuild his life aided by the locals, a Salvation Army volunteer (Kati Outinen) who he gets the hots for, and a melancholy mutt. Along the way, Kaurismäki brushes over themes of unemployment and homelessness, though it's as a tender parable of coffee and kindness that the film works best.

References to '50s pop Americana heighten the faintly fantastical feel, and Peltola's winningly strained courtship of Outinen is a marvellously funny, gentle fairytale touch. This is miserabilism of a decidedly feel-good kind.

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