Finland, 1962. Boxer Olli Mäki has a shot at the World Featherweight title. Immensely talented and equally modest, Olli’s small town life is transformed when he’s swept into national stardom and suddenly regarded as a symbol of his country. There’s only one problem: Olli has just fallen in love.
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A wonderful, small big film about love, ambition and boxing. The script is great: it gives the movie room to breath and builds up tension with simple issues (eg. will Olli be under 57 kg in due time). The dialogue works well, the characters feel very real, and the on top of it, the actors do a great work, especially of the two main characters, Olli and Raija.
Camera d'or winner at Cannes. Kuosmanen's debut film tells the story of Olli Maki and his title fight against Davey Moore in the early 60's. Instead of being the atypical boxing film Kuosmanen instead centers in on what really makes Maki tick; mainly his love and romance with Raija his home town sweetheart. Lovingly shot in b&w this character driven film has a sort of innocent charm but lacks revelation.
A subtle yet profound film that with bittersweet realism portrays a boxer that chooses love over fame. It may not have lots of action like typical boxing films but like the greatest boxing film of all time Raging Bull, it as heartbreaking realism among it's combination of punches. That for me makes it a more memorable film than simply being a action film about a contender battling to become a champion.
The most anti-climax boxing film there is. About love and swimming in lakes. Enjoying life (if possible) and trying not to fail. A nostalgic film about Finland, really. But no hollywood-hero-storytelling, no testosterone, and a charismatic Oona Airola. The film is good in its small side scenes (wedding, cycling in the forest etc). The boxing is accessory. Kuosmanen´s grammar is limited though.
Was immensely happy when I heard the news that MUBI would release in UK and US cinemas this movie. Gorgeously shot in 16mm by DoP Jani-Petteri Passi, it even surpassed my (very) high expectations. It's a touching story for how it looks at the human and sentimental side of a sporting hero, moving the story forward in the most cinematic and spontaneous way possible. Loved that final sequence on the beach at night!