If you’re vibing with Aki Kaurismäki‘s droll wavelength of dry comedies about ordinary people in Helsinki, “Fallen Leaves” is definitely for you. This warm and witty romantic comedy about two lost souls adrift, who eventually find each other on the existential carousel to nowhere, won a Jury Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival (where Ruben Östlund served as Jury President) and now represents Finland in the 2024 Best International Feature Film Oscar race. IndieWire shares the exclusive trailer for this MUBI release below on the heels of its New York Film Festival premiere.
The latest film from the Finnish director of “The Man Without a Past” and “Le Havre” tells the story of two lonely people. Ansa (whose name literally means “trapped” in Finnish and who is played wonderfully by Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen, also fantastic), in between soul-numbing blue-collar jobs, meet each other by chance in the Helsinki night and maybe discover the first, only, and ultimate love of their lives. And also a shared love of movies. Their path toward this worthy goal is clouded by Holappa’s alcoholism, lost phone numbers, not knowing each other’s names or addresses, and life’s general obstacles, especially the way we self-sabotage our own shot at human connection at our most agoraphobic moments.
This light-on-its-feet tragicomedy is the latest entry in Aki Kaurismäki’s series of working-class films (“Shadows in Paradise,” “Ariel,” and “The Match Factory Girl”).
Kaurismäki was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2003 for “Man Without a Past,” though he sat the ceremony out in protest of the Iraq War.
“A lucid and brittle ode to the little beauties of life that can be easy to lose sight of without the benefit of seeing them on the big screen, ‘Fallen Leaves’ may be endowed with the spirit of a fable and the romantic sweep of a Sirkian melodrama, but its faith in our ability to find light in the darkness never feels the least bit false or naive, because to watch this movie is to find it there too,” wrote David Ehrlich in his IndieWire review out of Cannes.
MUBI will release “Fallen Leaves” theatrically in the U.S. on November 17.