‘Fallen Leaves’ Review: Aki Kaurismäki Stages a Tiny Sliver of a Romance in a Quirky Finnish Kaurismäki Land That Hasn’t Changed in 30 Years
Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic Aki Kaurismäki, the deadpan cockeyed minimalist of Finland, has become the ultimate illustration of the principle that if you make movies in the same mood and style, with the same monosyllabic bombed-out hipster vibe, for a period of 30 years, your movies may not have changed — but the world around them has, so the films will have a totally different effect. In “Fallen Leaves,” the Kaurismäki bauble that’s showing at Cannes this year, there’s actually a scene in which a character uses a computer. The film’s heroine, Ansa (Alma Pöysti), loses her job as a supermarket worker, and to find another gig she rents an HP laptop at a makeshift Internet café that charges 10 Euro for half an hour. Apart from that, the movie unfolds in that scruffy and sparsely decorated so-familiar-it’s-cozy pre-tech Kaurismäki zone, where people still use electric adding machines or listen to a bulky kitchen radio that looks like it’s from the early ’60s. “Fallen Leaves” is set in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, but to our eyes it’s a weirdly underpopulated place where shopping, as a pastime, doesn’t exist, and neither, in any meaningful way, does conversation.