The Man Without a Past

Poster for The Man Without a Past

Autumn 2003 Main series

Sunday, October 5, 2003 at 4:00pm
Sunday, October 5, 2003 at 7:00pm
Sunday, October 5, 2003 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated PG · 1h 37m

Aki Kaurismäki, the Finnish director (Leningrad Cowboys Go America) closest perhaps to Jim Jarmush in style and laconic grace, wowed Cannes with this lyrical tale of a down-and-out amnesiac who builds a home for himself in the slums of Helsinki. Also a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Man Without A Past is a marvel of both style and substance, combining deceptive simplicity with a profound understanding of human insight; the film glows in its affirmation of the fundamental decency of humanity. A man known only as M (Markku Peltola) is left for dead by a group of thugs who steal his money and radio. He wakes up inside a hospital with a broken nose and no recollection of his name or his past. With the help of his needy neighbors, M begins a new life and falls for a Salvation Army soldier (Kati Outinen, winner of the Cannes Best Actress award) who gradually befriends him. Kaurismäki, whose films have drawn not only wide acclaim but also comparisons to Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, has an unerring sense of how to shape and control the tone of his films. His emphasis is strongly visual; he lets his camera linger on a seemingly still face, letting the features speak to the audience as would a painted portrait. A marvelously droll film that’s as quiet as it is touching, wryly funny, and sweet, The Man Without A Past demonstrates superb filmmaking, bristling with a tremendous sense of humanity and compassion.

Academy Award Nomination, Best Foreign Film

“A sublime work at once comic, melancholy, liberating and philosophical. It is the work of an artist fully in control of his art.” – Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

“Droll, reticent, flawlessly filmed fable of generosity.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

“At the end of The Man Without A Past, I felt a deep but indefinable contentment.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

“[Kaurismäki] trusts us to find the humor and the humanity that coexist in his world and in the process retains a purity of style and intent.” – Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle