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Finland’s Kaurismaki back in Cannes competition after over a decade

ALMA PÖYSTI and Jussi Vatanen in a scene from Fallen Leaves.

CANNES — Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki is back in competition for the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize after more than a decade with his 20th film, Fallen Leaves, which premiered on Monday.

Under a sweltering afternoon sun, Mr. Kaurismaki, 66, was joined on the red carpet by his lead actors Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen. Festival workers had to persuade Mr. Kaurismaki to pose for photographers as he attempted to power through the red carpet.

Fallen Leaves is a follow-up to Mr. Kaurismaki’s Proletariat Trilogy, coming more than three decades after the 1986 film Shadows in Paradise, 1988’s Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl which was released in 1990. Written and directed by Mr. Kaurismaki, Fallen Leaves is his first feature in six years.

The tragicomedy follows the budding romance between a quiet young woman, Ansa (Poysti) and Vatanen’s heavy-drinking sandblaster, whose first name is never revealed.

As they navigate blue-collar jobs and zero-hour contracts, a chance meeting in a karaoke bar brings the two lonely characters together, only to be pulled apart again.

Set to the soundtrack of news reports about the latest developments in the war in Ukraine and Finnish versions of yesteryear hits such as “Mambo Italiano,” the film follows the twosome’s efforts to forge a better life for themselves.

It features Mr. Kaurismaki’s trademark deadpan dialogue and references to his cinematic influences.

Fallen Leaves is Mr. Kaurismaki’s fifth competition title at Cannes. His last Palme d’Or contender was Le Havre in 2011. — Reuters

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