The Man Without a Past


The Man Without a Past (2002)


Critic Consensus: Kaurismäki delivers another droll comedy full of his trademark humor.


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Movie Info

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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Kaija Pakarinen
as Kaisa Nieminen
Annikki Tähti
as Flea Market Manageress
Anneli Sauli
as Bar Owner
Elina Salo
as Shipyard Clerk
Outi Mäenpää
as Bank Clerk
Esko Nikkari
as Bank Robber
Perlti Swehoim
as Investigating Officer
Pertti Sveholm
as Police Inspector
Aino Seppo
as Ex-wife
Antti Reini
as Electrician
Marko Haavisto Ja Poutahaukat
as The Salvation Army Band
Jouni Saario
as The Salvation Army Band
Jukka Teerisaari
as The Salvation Army Band
Jyrki Telila
as The Salvation Army Band
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Critic Reviews for The Man Without a Past

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (31)

Kaurismaki's movies can tickle you with the briefest of statements, the smallest of gestures.

Aug 29, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

At the end of The Man Without a Past, I felt a deep but indefinable contentment.

Jun 27, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A powerful film made with minimal means, it's a story of poor people on the fringes of society, done without sentimentality or condescension but with wicked humor.

Jun 27, 2003 | Rating: 4/4

Deliciously slow-paced film.

Jun 19, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Wry, whimsical and sure of tone, dry in all of the right ways and without an ounce of condescension.

May 29, 2003 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Full of deadpan humor.

May 23, 2003 | Rating: A-

Audience Reviews for The Man Without a Past


Slow and dry, this Finland-set dramedy and its amnesiac protagonist seem to be searching for meaning along with the audience. It's a challenging watch, especially for those who know little about the local culture, but there remain moments of universal humor, warmth, and melancholy that overpower Kaurismaki's alienating idiosyncrasies.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

The Man Without A Past raises a question, "what would make a changed better man?" A rather odd but interesting lovely story that delineates past, present, and future. Vivid, subtle characters blessed with sincere humanity and profound personalities. Hilarious. Brilliant. Compelling.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer


Great dialogue, interesting story and all that...but it just felt meh. It's a bit too dry for my tastes

Idrees Khan
Idrees Khan

Super Reviewer

Jim Jarmusch aptly summarized this film: "it's sad enough to make you laugh, and funny enough to make you cry."

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

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