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The Man Without a Past

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 67.91
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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, Quirky and a Little Sly June 27 2004
This Finnish film may not be for everyone. Though nominated in 2002 for an Oscar for best foreign film, I don't think it got much play here. It's a quiet movie about a guy who is beaten in a park in Helsinki right after getting off a train. The hospital thinks he's dead, but he staggers out, gradually recovers, and can't remember a thing. He meets a number of people, most of whom help him in some way or another. He meets a Salvation Army woman and a relationship developes.
It's hard to describe this movie. The dialoque is often funny, but delivered absolutely deadpan. There is no excitement, but a rich development of story and relationships through incidents that happen to the lead character or that he causes to happen. The two leads, Markku Peltoa and Kati Outinen, are adults and look it. There's no Hollywood handsomeness about either of them. The structure of the movie is a gem of economy. One scene ends and the film moves briskly on to the next scene. No extended, unnecessary character development. No superfluous dialoque. It may sound pompous, but this movie creates at the end a nice feeling of mature contentment.
The DVD of the film is crisp and strong; an excellent transfer. There are no significant extras.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Finally America acknowledged the undeniable talent of this prolific Finnish director, Aki Kaurismaki, by giving this film Oscar nomination (for foreign language films). His acquired taste for droll, dead-pan humor is fmous among the fans; unfortunately some find it hard to savor the taste at first, but it will be infectious after several repeated watching.
Plus "The Man without a Past" is a love story, too, and a good one. It starts with a middle-aged man at Helsinki station, where he is attacked by muggers. He loses his memories, and wanders in the city, looking for a help. The bureaucrats are not kind, but the people living in a deserted contanier by the port offers one, and he starts a new life. He just has to look forward.
And he meets a lady Irma working at the Salvation Amry (Kati Outinen, Kaurismaki's muse). She looks rigid in uptight uniform, but actually a kind of a woman who listens to rock'n'roll music at her apartment. The man and Irma fall in love with each other -- it's Irma's first love -- and the film follows the life of them (and those of other oddball characters) very tenderly.
To explain the plot itself is almost pointless. The charm of "The Man without a Past" comes to you when you realize that the apparently small things in life depicted here can be the source of happiness for the characters. Irma and the man are both ordinary people, to whom slight things mean a lot. And the subtle expressions of Kati Outinen perfectly conveys the sense of the blissful life even if you don't have much money.
The humor is eveywhere. with Kaurismaki's original touch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Finnish delight! Nov. 11 2003
THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST is a wonderful, lonely, and quiet film about M, a man who has suffered amnesia after being beaten and robbed while sleeping on a public park bench in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. He does not remember his name, or know anything about his past. But instead of going on a crusade to discover his true identity, he simply goes with the flow of life. After being pronounced dead at the hospital he wakes up in a deserted industrial area near the sea and is befriended by its local inhabitants. But M soon finds that his attempts to re-enter society is strongly hindered by the fact that he doesn't remember his name. Instead of being defeated M continues to go about living his life. He eventually rents an abandoned container car and plants a small vegetable garden outside his front door. M develops a new life while leaving the old one behind.
During this film there is a lack of any type of facial expressions or emotions of the characters, even when they are speaking to each other. The dialogue is slow and serious and there is not much action involved. This is what makes THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST a truly unique film. Not many people would appreciate this film with the underlying humor and silences. There is little doubt that this is the best foreign film I've seen for some time. My only complaint about this DVD is the lack of special features. I would really enjoy listening to a director or actor commentary of this film. Regardless, this is an excellent film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Love travels on a gravel road -- Beautiful! June 28 2004
In the impoverished slum area on the outskirts of a bigger city in Finland, a middle-aged working man is brutally attacked, robbed and left for dead by a pair of ruthless thugs. Taken to a hospital, the man is pronounced dead, but miraculously emerges from his trauma and literally walks away.
Suffering from amnesia, the man meets many well-meaning people who help him back on his feet. A scene where a waitress offers the penniless man a plate of food, saying "better you eat it than we throw it away", is reminiscent of the days of the Great Depression, where many able-bodied men would starve for lack of work.
The film spins beautifully to an unexpected, thus even more satisfying conclusion. A contender at many International Film Festivals, "The Man Without A Past" is testimony to the triumph of the human spirit. A rare gem among recent World Cinema. Highly recommended!*****
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies ever
First time I saw Man without a past, I was in different world for 24 hours. I could hardly work, eat, drink, I was just in aww of the message the movie had. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2011 by Carita Nybom
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
I received my product lightning fast and it was in perfect condition! This is definetely a seller I would recommend to anyone.
Published on Sept. 2 2011 by stiveyeu
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Travel Starved of Myths
I'm not from Finland myself, but I have to say that this movie does not realistically describe Finnish society. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Little Jimmy
5.0 out of 5 stars A micro-society of the Finnish past...
A man arrives to Helsinki by train and he stops by a park in order to get some rest, but he is attacked by three thugs that leave him for dead. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2004 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Sequel
"The Man Without a Past" is the fine sequel to "Kauas pilvet Karkaavat"("Drifting Clouds"). Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by David Anderson
2.0 out of 5 stars Lowlifes on the low key
Plusses: interesting faces; quiet, caring interactions between characters; nice music when present; warm take on the Helsinki underbelly in summer. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Jeff Dunn
4.0 out of 5 stars Quietly Rediscovering Life
A man (Markku Peltola) develops nearly complete amnesia when he is beaten and left for dead shortly after arriving in Helsinki. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2003 by mirasreviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. Go see it.
Someone called this movie "deadpan," and immediately many critics latched on to that word, adding other descriptive phrases such as "frozen Finnish treat" and "subversive comedy. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by Angry Mofo
5.0 out of 5 stars Down to earth movie
The plot in this movie is a very sensitive, down to earth story. After severely beaten by three men, a man (who is probably in his mid to late forties) loses all memory and ends up... Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2003 by Jorge Reyes
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