Rent The Man Without a Past (2002)

3.7 of 5 from 153 ratings
1h 36min
Rent The Man Without a Past (aka Mies vailla menneisyyttä) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Markku Peltola plays 'M', who arrives in Helsinki only to be viciously set upon by thugs and pronounced dead by medics. By some miracle he revives but with no memory of his past or his identity. Rebuilding his life from scratch, 'M' acquires a melancholy dog (a recurring Kaurismaki motif) named Hannibal and falls in love with a Salvation Army soup kitchen volunteer (Kati Outinen). But the past inevitably cataches up with him, forcing him to confront his future.
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Aki Kaurismäki
Aki Kaurismäki
Mies vailla menneisyyttä
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Acting Up: Top 10 Performances At Cannes, Introducing the Thesping Olympians

2002 Cannes Grand Prize

2002 Cannes Best Actress

Release Date:
Run Time:
96 minutes
Finnish LPCM Stereo
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
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Reviews (1) of The Man Without a Past

Not the film to watch if you think the Finns are deadpan and strange... - The Man Without a Past review by Strovey

Spoiler Alert

This is a Finnish film set in Finland in the capital city Helsinki although to be honest it could have been any mainland European city as the location was clearly not the star of the movie or important to the story. I’ve been to Helsinki at least twice and could not place the vista at all.

It pays to be aware of what type of film Aki Kaurismaki makes before you view in all honesty. This moves at a very slow-paced. Everything is played dead-pan when I say dead-pan I mean really dead-pan. It is almost anti-acting at some points. There is little to no ‘body-acting’ either, when the dialogue is sparse you do not get eyebrow-raising or gurning to portray what is happening. You need to get used to this because it is an old style of acting and an odd way of presenting characters within a story.

Without wishing to stereotype the Finns are reserved and stoical people so it seems entirely normal that a Finnish film should reflect this. But, like the Finns, inside the story, there is a sense of fun as the story stumbles forward, with plain useless police officers, doctors, nurses and employment office employees to the fore. Only the truly dense could not see the huge signpost Aki Kaurismaki is pointing at his own society here.

Here we see ’M' as our nameless lead is called strive to find out about his past and slowly get closer in dribs and drabs but then when he finds out, I will not spoil this part, but it neatly fits in with the overall style and feel of the story.

With the container homes, the odd assortment of characters overseen by a corrupt security guard and incorruptible Salvation Army you are stepping into as an un-Hollywood film as you could possibly get. The scenery, setting, is not really important as Karuismaki is clearly interested and focussed on ‘M’ and those around him and has directed them to be as plain-faced and dead-pan as possible.

I can see how this film will not appeal to some film-fans with a glacial pace, simple story-line and strange stylised acting but even if Man Without a Past does not sound like your ‘cup of tea’ it might pay to give it a chance. After all, a slice of Finnish cinema has to be the antidote to the endless output from Hollywood.

It’s weird, but like all weird things, some people will take to it and others reject it. It’s all good.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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