December 22, 2023

Fallen Leaves: A Finnish Gem Making Waves

Most filmmakers take time to discover their artistic identity. But there are a few — like Jean-Luc Godard, Wong Kar Wai and Wes Anderson — who seem to have popped from the womb knowing exactly the kind of films they were born to make. Their vision is so distinctive that, from the very beginning, every frame of their work bears their signature.

One of this handful is Aki Kaurismäki, the 66-year-old Finnish director who may be the world's great master of cinematic terseness — he believes that no movie should ever be over an hour and a half. Ever since he emerged four decades ago with a terrific adaptation of Crime and Punishment — it ran a whopping 93 minutes — Kaurismäki has been creating taut, funny, quietly poetic movies that usually start off doleful and wind-up heartening.

Understated Brilliance

The Finnish film "Fallen Leaves" has captivated audiences with its understated and gently hilarious portrayal of love. Ansa and Holappa, portrayed by Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen, navigate the complexities of relationships in this charming cinematic piece.

Cannes Recognition and Oscar Entry

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"Fallen Leaves" received acclaim by winning a Jury Prize at Cannes and being selected as Finland's entry for the best international feature film at the Oscars. The film's recognition on the global stage speaks to its universal appeal and artistic merit.

Aki Kaurismaki's Poetic Script

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Alma Poysti describes the script as a "pearl" - crystal clear, hilarious, and deeply touching. Aki Kaurismaki, not just a brilliant director but an excellent writer, crafts a script that is both humorous and emotionally resonant, offering a unique gift to the actors.

Kaurismaki's Influence

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Jussi Vatanen emphasizes Aki Kaurismaki's legendary status in Finland, spanning over 40 years of filmmaking. Growing up under Kaurismaki's influence, both actors express admiration for his ability to create humble and honest love stories that resonate with authenticity.

War as a Witness

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The film subtly incorporates the ongoing war in Ukraine as a backdrop through the constant presence of radio news. Alma Poysti reflects on the sadness of the situation, emphasizing that the war serves as a time capsule and a witness to the film's narrative.

Aki Kaurismaki's Humor Across Cultures

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Responding to the perception that Finnish and comedy don't usually go together, Alma Poysti points out that Aki Kaurismaki's humor transcends cultural boundaries. The film's global appeal attests to the universal nature of Kaurismaki's comedic sensibilities.

Taking Chances in Love

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Jussi Vatanen delves into his character Holappa's internal struggle and the theme of taking chances in life. The film explores the idea that, despite past hardships, there may still be untapped beauty in life, encouraging characters to bet on each other.

Oscar Nomination Aspirations

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With "Fallen Leaves" being shortlisted for the international feature film category at the Oscars, Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen express their hopes and excitement about the possibility of attending the Academy Awards, highlighting the film's potential for global recognition.


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