Sunday, June 18, 2023

Kuolleet lehdet / Fallen Leaves

Aki Kaurismäki: Kuolleet lehdet / Fallen Leaves (FI 2023) avec Jussi Vatanen (Holappa) et Alma Pöysti. © Sputnik

Aki Kaurismäki: Kuolleet lehdet / Fallen Leaves (FI 2023) avec Janne Hyytiäinen et les Maustetytöt. © Sputnik

Les Feuilles mortes / Höstlöv som faller
DIRECTOR: Aki Kaurismäki
COUNTRY: Finland
YEAR: 2023
DURATION: 81 min
LANGUAGES: Finnish / subtitled in English
CATEGORY: Finnish Films, Finnish Premiere, New Finnish Films, Puhuttu tai tekstitetty suomeksi, Subtitles in English
In the presence of Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, hosted by Satu Kyösola.
Viewed at Iso Teltta, Sodankylä, Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), 18 June 2023

"Les Feuilles mortes" est une chanson française écrite par Jacques Prévert et composée par Joseph Kosma pour le film Les Portes de la nuit (FR 1946) de Marcel Carné, chanté par Yves Montand.
    It is also the theme song of Autumn Leaves (US 1956) by Robert Aldrich, starring Joan Crawford, sung by Nat "King" Cole to the English lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

"Syntynyt suruun, puettu pettymyksiin" ["Born in Sorrow, Clothed in Disappointment"] written and performed by Maustetytöt (Kaisa Karjalainen, Anna Karjalainen). From the album Eivät enkelitkään ilman siipiä lennä (2020).

Lauri Timonen (MSFF 2023): "Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) – a decent, quiet man, even if a bit boozy – meets Ansa (Alma Pöysti) in the gloomy bars of Kallio and dares to fall in love, even though life keeps throwing obstacles in the way. Other characters in the story also dream of happiness, such as the karaoke king (Janne Hyytiäinen) waiting to sign a record contract at any moment but facing part-time age discrimination, or the anonymous, abandoned stray dog. Echoes of the war resonate on the radio, bellies of the working class are rumbling while they navigate the pedantic jungle of rules, and their wallets are permanently empty. And yet, human solidarity and perseverance refuse to die."

"Aki Kaurismäki’s latest film is a timeless tale of love, which at the same time tackles contemporary problems with a passion. The leading humanist in European cinema once again proves his close kinship with Maestro Chaplin: The dialogue unfolds with the same playful lightness as in The Man Without a Past (2002), which delighted audiences in Cannes two decades earlier. In Fallen Leaves, every aspect of the filmmaking supports each other; from Timo Salminen’s glorious images, the soulful performances, the exquisitely rhythmic editing, the discreetly witty set design, to pertinent musical choices. Jean Renoir once tried to change the world with his art but had to admit that he was not able to end the war. Fallen Leaves – a heartfelt masterpiece by a mature auteur – belongs to that same genre of beautiful illusions. After watching it, we emerge from the darkness of the movie theatre into the northern sunlight a little happier than before." Lauri Timonen

Deux personnes solitaires (Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen) se rencontrent par hasard une nuit à Helsinki et chacun tente de trouver en l’autre son premier, unique et dernier amour. Leur chemin vers ce but louable est obscurci par l’alcoolisme de l’homme, la perte d’un numéro de téléphone, l’ignorance de leur nom et de leur adresse réciproques. La vie a tendance à mettre des obstacles sur la route de ceux qui cherchent le bonheur.
Cette tragi-comédie teintée d’indulgence est la quatrième partie que l’on croyait perdue de la trilogie de Aki Kaurismäki (Shadows in paradise, Ariel et La Fille aux allumettes).

Réalisé par : Aki KAURISMAKI
Année de production : 2023
Pays : Finlande
Durée : 81 minutes
Date de sortie : 20.09.2023
Scénario / Dialogues
Les Feuilles Mortes : le quatrième tome ouvrier d’Aki Kaurismäki
Par Charlotte Pavard, publié le 22.05.2023
" Aki Kaurismäki concourt pour la cinquième fois pour la Palme d’or avec Kuolleet Lehdet (Les Feuilles Mortes), déclinaison empreinte d’humanité de son univers tendre et loufoque. Lauréat du Grand Prix pour L’Homme sans Passé en 2002, qui valut le Prix d’interprétation féminine à Kati Outinen, le metteur en scène finlandais évoque, dans ce film en Compétition, les thèmes universels de la solidarité, l’espoir et surtout, de l’amour.

Deux âmes errantes et solitaires (Alma Pöysti et Jussi Vatanen) rêvent l’amour de leur vie : leur rencontre puissante et fortuite dans la nuit d’Helsinki se trouve contrariée par l’alcoolisme de l’homme, des coordonnées perdues, et la vie en général, douée pour poser des obstacles à ceux qui aspirent au bonheur. Cette douce tragicomédie a été pensée par Aki Kaurismäki comme un quatrième volet de sa trilogie ouvrière : dans Ombres au Paradis (1986), Nikander et Llona, éboueur et vendeuse de supermarché, n’obtiennent pas l’ascension sociale espérée en piquant dans la caisse, dans Ariel (1988), la vie rêvée par le protagoniste manutentionnaire ne prendra pas la direction souhaitée, et dans La Fille aux allumettes (1990), le sentiment d’exclusion d’Iris, petite ouvrière reléguée à un rôle subalterne, ne la quittera pas.

La désintégration de la classe ouvrière, l’ascension sociale contrariée : chacun de ces films, aussi désespérés que chaleureux, aborde un thème social, et s’attache à démonter toute aspiration de réalisation de soi. Les Feuilles Mortes, en Compétition au même titre qu’Au loin s’en vont les nuages en 1996, Lights in the Dusk en 2006, et Le Havre en 2011, offre cependant une réelle touche d’espoir et d’émancipation. " (Festival de Cannes 2023)

AA: Aki Kaurismäki got a rave reception in Sodankylä, as we have heard he received in Cannes. The audience was laughing out loud. And perhaps crying silently. I was.

Satu Kyösola, who hosted the screening, reported that Aki Kaurismäki had praised Chaplin in Cannes: "the greatest of all, keeps things simple".

Fallen Leaves is a movie belonging to the Chaplin legacy and the Chaplinesque lineage, along with René Clair and Vittorio De Sica. There is a surface of fairy-tale, nostalgia and escapism, but a solid understanding of reality right beneath. The sense of contemporary working-life, its precariousness and gig economy is deeply felt.

Films that I was mostly reminded of include A Dog's Life, City Lights and Modern Times. Not modern but timeless.

When I saw the trailer I could not help thinking: "yet again". And now, having seen film, it is indeed "yet again", but different. Didn't Cézanne keep painting Montagne Sainte-Victoire? "Repeating oneself": Modigliani? Ozu? 

Fallen Leaves is in fact new in many ways. Russia's Feldzug into Ukraine is a major topic, this is about life in the wartime in Finland which has a long border with Russia.

A new generation of actors brings a fresh atmosphere. Alma Pöysti is one of the brightest talents on the Finnish Swedish scene, wonderful as Tove Jansson. Jussi Vatanen played the most revered character in Finnish fiction, Koskela in The Unknown Soldier, with a fresh approach. He is also a comedian of the school of Stan Laurel.

In each film Kaurismäki has introduced a new approach. Light in the Dusk was a piece of delta blues. Le Havre turned from the focus of the outsider's solitude to the theme to helping another outsider, the refugee. The Other Side of Hope went beyond that: the refugee's concern in saving another refugee. 

Having returned from harbour stories to this "fourth installment in the worker trilogy", Kaurismäki has changed focus and perspective again. Previously, when there was a female protagonist, it was in a tale of desolation and solitude (The Match Factory Girl).

This story is a romance, and there is a couple, but the man (Jussi Vatanen) is farcically inept in matters of dating, and an alcoholic, too. This is Kaurismäki's first film with alcoholism as a serious main theme, having appeared on the side before.

Now it is the woman (Alma Pöysti) who becomes the active protagonist, leading everything. This is the new angle in the worker series. Perhaps it is also a reflection of the times. Men get marginalized, women are taking over.

Again, the dog is essential, the bridge from the physical to the metaphysical, the being of unconditional joy and friendship, carrying a message from beyond.

Music is all-important, right from the title. It provides sentimental escapism that helps endure conditions beneath dignity. We witness the hardening atmosphere of greed, abuse and discrimination.

There is something more, not made explicit, but ubiquitous. We are living like there is no tomorrow, and young people know that they have gotten a raw deal and will lose, perhaps everything, because of the way we live now. The financial crises of 2008 (and others) meant the greatest fraud in world history. Profits were privatized, losses were socialized. Global inequality reached untold heights.

The sequence that made me cry was the one with Maustetytöt singing "Syntynyt suruun, puettu pettymyksiin" ["Born in Sorrow, Clothed in Disappointment"], one of their hit songs, and it has never sounded better. It is one of the greatest musical numbers in the Kaurismäki oeuvre, even in the league of Rauli Badding Somerjoki singing "Paratiisi".

Maustetytöt is a duo, a band apart from the mainstream. To me, they bring the sound of the generation betrayed, a voice that cannot be denied, and are indeed a reincarnation of the Kaurismäki spirit. 
There is escapism in Fallen Leaves, but in a sense of a Gegenbild, a counterimage to a depressing reality. Love is real. And we must dream, because it is our hope.

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