A nameless man comes to Town and gets beaten to death in the first possible moment. Here starts this epic drama, film or should we say a dream of lonely hearts with empty pockets under the big sky of our Lord or should we say birds. –Cannes Film Festival
Aki Kaurismäki did a wide variety of jobs including postman, dish-washer and film critic, before forming a production and distribution company, Villealfa (in homage to Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)) with his older brother Mika Kaurismäki, also a film-maker. Both Aki and Mika are prolific film-makers, and together have been responsible for one-fifth of the total output of the Finnish film industry since the early 1980s, though Aki’s work has found more favour abroad. His films are very short (he says a film should never run longer than 90 minutes, and many of his films are nearer 70), eccentric parodies of various genres (road movies, film noir, rock musicals), populated by lugubrious hard-drinking Finns and set to eclectic soundtracks, typically based around ‘50s rock’n’roll.
In the 1990s he has made films in Britain (I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)) and France (La vie de bohème (1992)). —IMDb
Kaurismäki jumps up higher in my list of directors I've seen work of with this and Lights in the Dusk (2006), this film both incredibly hilarious and unbelievably touching. In its deadpan nature is nonetheless touches one's heart, thus proving romance doesn't have to be portrayed as maudlin, as much as amnesia as a plot doesn't have to feel unoriginal as it is shown here. Its great art even if the director he's sarcastic and ironic at points.
Tragicomic romance comprising in stark dosage Kaurismäki’s contempt for the modern market state and general malaise, and his hopelessly gallant invocation of the romance and solidarity of yesteryear, found in the stolid backwaters of Helsinki. Not as instantly endearing as Drifting Clouds, reduced to a dim humanity - wearier, marginalised in a post-millennial world (deadpan absurdisms notwithstanding). Rather: amnesia as panacea to restored life, supported by decent human charity; religion humbly yielded on the side - an odd Christian movie you can get behind.
One of the film's theses seems to be that identity not only is a tool used by others (like states and banks) to control us, but we never really own it to begin with. Our identity is constructed for us and without the official version of it, no one knows what to do with us.