I’m a relative latecomer to the charms of Aki Kaurismäki’s work, but I’ve become a proselytizer to make up for lost time. The Finnish writer-director who brought us Le Havre and The Other Side of Hope is backwith a thoroughly entertaining, completely unpredictable love story called Fallen Leaves.
Kaurismäki’s sense of humor is infectious and unmistakably his own. Some people would call this kind of comedy “dry,” and I suppose that’s as good an adjective as any. Yet it made me laugh out loud.
Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen perfectly portray two lonely, working-class people who carry on a fitful courtship. Their relationship, which gets off to an especially rocky start, isn’t pretty. They are completely believable; the director has guided them through his world with nary a misstep.
The filmmaker has also earned my admiration for another reason: he believes that movies should be short. This one runs 81 minutes, but it doesn’t leave one feeling shortchanged—quite the contrary. Fallen Leaves is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.