qathet film festival 2024
Sat Mar 9 — 1:30 pm
Comedy / Drama
Set-in present-day Helsinki, Fallen Leaves is a melancholy romantic comedy about two lonely souls who sleepwalk through life in dead-end jobs. A wonderful Alma Pöysti stars as the soulful Ansa, a 40-ish woman who earns minimum wage at a supermarket that treats its employees as if they were thieves. Aki Kaurismäki is the Finnish director who is notable for being not simply one of the directors who is always welcome in the Cannes competition, but also is one of the rarer subset who actually makes funny films; that is, actually-funny and not just arthouse-funny. It’s romantic and sweet-natured, in a deadpan style that in no way undermines or ironises the emotions involved and with some sharp things to say about contemporary politics.
Fallen Leaves is not a big movie, but then again, bigness is beside the point. While the film may be small, Kaurismäki understands that his characters’ yearning for love is not. Kaurismäki has such deep affection for his characters—and chooses such subtly expressive actors to bring them to life—that he can never allow them to suffer for long. Ansa and Holappa have an ill-fated dinner date; Ansa tells him that she’s lost family to alcoholism, and she cannot tolerate his drinking. He stomps off angrily, informing her that she can’t tell him what to do. But as he does so, he knows how much he’s losing.
Great dogs are a hallmark of Kaurismäki’s movies. Ansa adopts a winsome dog that has been handing around the factory where she works, brings him home, and bathes him. Everything about the moment is beautiful, including the colour scheme. There’s joy to be found in colour, in the companionship of animals, in love that’s hard won. Kaurismäki reopens our eyes to all these things, things we sometimes forget we know. He’s the patron saint of reminding; the miracle, he knows, is already right inside us. Their story builds to a gorgeous ending with a great and revelatory final joke.
Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, Anne Hyytiäinen, Nuppu Koivu, Matti Onnismaa, Simon Al-Bazoon, Martti Suosalo, Sakari Kuosmanen, Maria Heiskanen, Alina Tomnikov, Alma the dog as Chaplin the dog, Maustetytöt
Juho Kuosmanen, Sherwan Haji
Country of Origin:
Finland / Germany
Finnish with English Subtitles
Director Bahram Javahery
Canada / English
When a young woman leaves her homeland in search of a better future, she brings with her a single memento from her past: a ripe apple studded with fragrant cloves, in this NFB animated film.