An Emotionless Romance That One way or the other Restores Your Hope In Humanity


  • Fallen Leaves is a deadpan romantic comedy that explores the opportunity of human connection in a difficult world that encourages emotional detachment.
  • The movie’s stars, Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, ship refined performances that go away an enormous impression and spotlight the issue of their characters’ day by day lives.
  • The film’s bigger message emphasizes the significance of actual interplay and the constraints of artwork instead, whereas additionally acknowledging the worth of cinema as a method to attach with others.



Encountering a longtime auteur filmmaker for the primary time is one in all my favourite moviegoing experiences. Their early work would possibly maintain the seeds of their private model, however leaping right into a profession properly underway means seeing it in full bloom, like stumbling into a brand new world and having to study its guidelines and rhythms from scratch. Fallen Leaves (Kuolleet lehdet) is my first Aki Kaurismäki movie, however his twentieth. From what I’ve learn, what I skilled as new could be very a lot of a chunk with the Finnish writer-director’s earlier work.

I can guarantee anybody equally uninitiated that this makes a beautiful place to begin, and never simply because it is an amazing film in itself. It is a romantic comedy so deadpan that, at first, you would possibly wonder if human connection is even doable at this stage of expressivity. That is, in fact, the purpose, and if real relationships nonetheless appear to be miracles when the 81-minute runtime is up, additionally they really feel extra important than ever. It is such an efficient, layered deployment of this strategy to filmmaking that I completed it excited to have 19 others prefer it left to see.

Fallen Leaves’ Stars Make Refined Decisions That Depart A Huge Impression

Jussi Vatanen and Alma Pöysti in Fallen Leaves

Set in present-day Helsinki, Fallen Leaves follows two lonely individuals about to cross paths: Ansa (Alma Pöysti), a grocery retailer employee aware of her residence’s unfilled areas; and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen), a metalworker who sneaks a drink every time he is ready. Their emotional withdrawal is at odds with their colourful, art- and music-filled surroundings, however not their friends, who’re at most a half-step above them. If their buddies, Liisa (Nuppu Koivu) and Huotari (Janne Hyytiäinen), are as determined for companionship, they at the very least do one thing about it — even when their amusing change on the native karaoke bar does not go properly.

That’s the place Ansa and Holappa first glimpse one another, but it surely will not be till one other probability encounter that they really work together. We have gotten to see the challenges of their day by day lives by then, and realized that this world (and their bosses) is not at all times good to them. Anytime somebody activates a radio, hoping for a bit of escapism, they’re greeted with the newest updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Maybe, Kaurismäki’s film suggests, disaffection is a sound response to this actuality we reside in. So, when these two individuals meet and sparks fly, it turns into all of the extra significant.

The worth of cinema shouldn’t be in connecting with the filmmaker’s perspective, however as a method to attach with one another.

One consequence of Fallen Leaves‘ efficiency model is that we grow to be further delicate to alter within the actors, and the subtlest of smirks through the protagonists’ first date had me grinning ear-to-ear. Vatanen, whose character is sort of at all times some stage of drunk, will get the quick finish of the stick because the movie’s most subdued presence, however Pöysti actually shines in distinction. A mild optimism ebbs and flows in her, deflated by hardship and reignited by moments of connection. The hope Ansa has for Holappa beams via in her eyes every time she appears at him, and it is infectious.

Watching Kaurismäki’s Film Can Solely Get You So Far

Jussi Vatanen as Holappa smoking indoors in Fallen Leaves
Jussi Vatanen in Fallen Leaves

As is the character of those tales, simply because the universe introduced them collectively, occasions (some touchingly dramatic, others comically coincidental) conspire to maintain them aside. However all through this turbulence, we cling to the hope it’s going to all work out for them. That is how Kaurismäki’s bigger message actually sinks in. His movie is full of artwork of every kind, representing, as Huotari’s karaoke efficiency illustrates, the human want to share ourselves with others. The characters are surrounded by it, however nonetheless, they’re blanks; artwork is not any substitute for actual interplay.

There’s an acknowledgment of this film’s limitations nestled in that theme, however Fallen Leaves has a solution for that. Ansa and Holappa go to the flicks collectively in a single scene — to see, in a wink to a different deadpan comedy about disaffection, Jim Jarmusch’s The Useless Do not Die — and two patrons exit the theater discussing their experiences with it. The strains themselves might play as jokes, however the reality stays that this is likely one of the few situations of non-primary characters truly speaking to one another. The central couple then fill a first-date silence by doing the identical.

Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen sitting in a movie theater in Fallen Leaves
Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen in Fallen Leaves

The worth of cinema shouldn’t be in connecting with the filmmaker’s perspective, however as a method to attach with one another. Right here the film’s perspective on know-how begins to make sense. Gadgets that ask us to take our eyes off our fellow people are conspicuously absent. Radios are very outstanding, however TVs are nowhere to be seen, and the uncommon look of a cellphone is simply to make calls. When Ansa wants a pc, she is overcharged for half-hour of use at an area café, as if the movie is taxing her.

The irony of reviewing Fallen Leaves for its streaming launch shouldn’t be misplaced on me, so I am going to do my half by recommending that you just not solely watch it, however discover a option to share nonetheless it made you’re feeling with one other residing, respiratory individual. Barring that, a sure third-act growth makes me suppose speaking out loud to a pet about it will be thought of a suitable various.

Fallen Leaves launched in restricted US theaters on November 17, and is out there to stream on MUBI from Friday, January 19. The movie is 81 minutes lengthy and isn’t presently rated.

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