The Man Without a Past Reviews
I have seen this in a cine club a few years ago, we were three friends, none of us had never heard about Kaurismäki before, and I remember we were quite laughing at the unexpressive actors, moving like zombie, rigid, so strange ... wondering if this was on purpose, or if the actors were unable to play. Now I know this is the style of Kaurismaki: a style that I do not like very much, but then the effect was quite comic, and I was not alone, most people in the theater was laughing on supposedly dramatic scenes, and, at the end, my two fellows, quite amused too, knowing that I had visited Finland asked me if Helsinky is the junkyard that it is shown in this movie. Not at all, for sure.
Maybe, if I would try to see this again, I could appreciate a little bit more, but I have so many good movies to see yet, and so little time. And Kaurismaki is not my cup of tea.
The story is pretty simple: we see a man (Markku Peltola) get off the train somewhere and go sit on a bench. Then he is abruptly beaten nearly to death with a baseball bat by some random thugs. He's declared dead at the hospital, but then gets up and walks out. He has no memory whatsoever of who he is, but somehow ends up moving into the local outcast community, nearly all of whom live in storage containers by the shore. He strikes up a relationship with a lonely Salvation Army worker (Kati Outinen) who's almost as bad off as he is. And that's pretty much the movie.
Like I said, everything about this movie is utterly deadpan, especially the performances. Peltola's performance is interesting - you can't really say the character is especially likable and sympathetic, but then that's because he can't remember what kind of a person he was. He's neither friendly nor mean because he can't remember which he is supposed to be. So he's just kind of there, existing. Outinen is also quite good as Irma, the Salvation Army worker. All of the characters speak and act in very flattened, almost depressed ways - they're kind of like the characters in a Wes Anderson movie, only more so. The camerawork just tends to regard them neutrally.
Like I said, the movie is indeed a comedy. The characters keep finding themselves in ridiculous situations, but since they don't react in the way we've been trained to expect characters to react to such things, the humor of it all might slip by some viewers. It's a minimalist film that doesn't harp on its own minimalism. There's also a genuinely strange beauty to the film's locations. It feels like an "acquired taste" sort of thing, so I can't guarantee you'd like it. But I did.
En "Un hombre sin pasado", el protagonista es apaleado y despojado de todo, incluyendo su nombre y su memoria. A partir de aquí es acogido por una pareja de indigentes y ayudado por el ejército de salvación. En este entorno encontrará el amor a la vez que irá tratando de reconducir su vida. Kaurismäki denuncia el abismo social entre clases y el árido camino vital de los sin techo aunque a la vez se preocupa de dignificar la miseria. El hogar del protagonista, un contenedor de mercancías abandonado, es el mejor símbolo de esta idea, así como las ropas que consigue en un almacén de caridad. Ambos elementos poseen una dignidad extraña que enlaza con la no-actuación de unos personajes hieráticos y carentes de emoción. Así todo parece tan aséptico e indoloro como la idiosincrasia nórdica que late en cada plano y en cada frase.
En la película no todo es pesimismo. Es cierto que el peso de los requerimientos sociales parecen aplastar por momentos a un protagonista que, no lo olvidemos, no tiene nombre. No puede por tanto abrirse una cuenta bancaria, no puede encontrar un trabajo y no puede colaborar con la policía cuando le exigen que se identifique. Aún así, este hombre condenado a vivir al margen es capaz de crear esperanza a su alrededor, ya sea a través de la música o de su paso firme hacia delante. Al fin y al cabo no tiene nada que dejar atrás. Esa es su tragedia y su esperanza. Empezar de nuevo, aun desde lo más bajo, sin deudas que saldar, sin culpas, sin miedos.