January 9, 2024 – This is one of those movies about depressed people living dreary lives in a downward spiral that looks like they are destined to commit suicide, or otherwise die violent, tragic deaths. It is great relief when it turns out differently.
Ansa (played by Alma Pöysti of “Four Little Adults”) is a single woman making a modest living working at a supermarket in Helsinki where there is no job security. She is watched like a hawk by a ridiculously humorless and suspicious guard. She is finally fired for salvaging expired products form the supermarket garbage bin, for use by herself and others in need.
Out of money, she meets Holappa (played by Jussi Vatanen of “Koskinen”) a depressed, alcoholic industrial worker, who buys her coffee, pastry, and a trip to the theater to see a zombie movie. She agrees to meet him again after the movie, but won't tell him her name or where she lives. She writes her number down on a slip of paper and gives it to him.
Holappa feels upbeat about his chance meeting with Ansa, who is an attractive blonde. He had spotted her previously in a bar, where his friend, Huotari (Janne Hyytiäinen of “The Other Side of Hope”) tries to charm the Ansa's friend, Liisa (Nuppu Koivu of “The Other Side of Hope”) with a karaoke performance. He gets shot down for being too old, while Ansa and Holappa exchange only glances.
After the movie, Holappa pulls out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and the paper with Ansa's address comes out with it, and is lost. The rest of the movie is a series of these kinds of broken connections between Ansa and Holappa who seem destined to live apart from each other.
Ansa gets another job, and she gets another companion, a stray dog that she takes in. Ansa is the kind of woman who picks up strays, and Holappa is one of them. She sees him drunk, passed out a bus stop. Some kids try to roll him, but are disappointed because he has nothing worth stealing.
Still, Ansa gives him a chance, but she tells him she cannot have a serious relationship with him if he continues his drunken ways. Her father and brother both died from alcoholism, and she won't go through that again. Holappa leaves angrily, saying he will not be bossed around.
Holappa gets fired from two jobs for drinking on the job. His friend, Huotari, asks him why he drinks so much and Holappa says it is because he is depressed. When asked why he is depressed, Holappa says it is because he drinks too much. Huotari, an amateur philosopher of sorts, points out that this is “circular logic.”
Holappa and Huotari often joke around with each other, using very dry humorous exaggerations. Holappa also uses the same, dry humor on Ansa. Holappa finally hits rock bottom on welfare after losing his last job. He realizes that Ansa was right, and that he won't be worthy of her, or himself, unless he stops drinking.
Holappa sobers up and calls Ansa, who is willing to give him another chance, but, there is another problem, of course, and so it goes. My description of this film so far makes it sound more depressing than it is.
There is a good deal of humor in this film, including some funny critic-shaming comments from two members of the audience after seeing the zombie movie (“The Dead Don't Die”). This is a romantic comedy, low-key Finnish-style (a Finnish-German production with dialog in Finnish and Arabic).
This movie is on the short list for the 96th Academy Awards, and is being hailed as a masterpiece by some. I don't think so, but it is a good, enjoyable film, nonetheless. This film rates a B.
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