Foreign Shores: The Man Without A Past (2002)

The film echoes many of the early 50’s movies with some weird rock and roll played by the church band and also a weird title.

The Man without a past (2002)

Just imagine yourself at a birth of a child. It almost feels like you’re witnessing one of the most tragic points in your life. But at the end of it all everybody seems to have a smile on their faces some even laugh. The baby is still left crying but you seem to be oblivious of all that. This is a similar feeling I got from watching this really downbeat comedy.

The film begins with a vicious mugging of a man named M who comes to Helsinki for a reason we are not actually clear. After that he is pronounced dead at a hospital and suddenly wakes up and doesn’t remember a thing except for boarding a train. He discharges himself from the hospital and is taken in by a poor family who sees him lying on the road. He is left with no past and begins to harrowingly try to create a future for himself in this new town. The Man without a past really doesn’t take off from any point. It just seems to float around a heart warming tale. The people he meets are just motifs of this blighted economy.

The Man without a past (2002)

The director Aki Kaurismaki plays around with the fact that he is without a name. This leads him to some very interesting and some hilarious situations. One thing that you will surely not miss out on is the dog named Hannibal. The owner of the dog is the tenant of a run down shack where Mr. M stays in. Hannibal is a girl and the owner was not aware of it when he had bought it. The dog really deserves a special mention. He takes on the other great canines like Lassie and the homeward bound dogs.

Markku Peltola the man named simply M is an epitome of wordless stoicism. He really doesn’t have to do much with all that is thrown at him. He just stands testament to what the director is trying to convey with just simple gestures. You can’t help laughing at some of the quirky things he is made to do because of his state. But it finally comes down to understanding the human spirit when it is hit with such harshness.

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Audiences might even see at as a simple love story. But it is so intricately woven into a fabric of insecurities that it brings out an uncharacteristic depth that is so common in many of Aki Kaurismaki’s earlier work. The film echoes many of the early 50’s movies with some weird rock and roll played by the church band and also a weird title. But it is still quality entertainment for the thinkers.


Founder/Creator of Talking Films. Created Talking films back in 2009 and has been an ardent cinema lover for the past 2 decades.

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