Saturday, 28 January 2017

REVIEW - THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MAKI (JUHO KUOSMANEN)


An easygoing Finnish drama, faithful to the simple integrity of its factual narrative content in Juho Kuosmanen's calmly exacting style. In masquerading as a tame, conservative chronicle of a less complicated era, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki absorbs into its overall scheme too much of that tameness, gradually watering down the impact of its dramaturgy. Kuosmanen himself has little need for complication, and centres his concerns upon extricating from his film the maximum impact with the minimum apparent effort. His is a concise mise-en-scene, expressive without the stylistic burden of overt expression, then offset by an affable strain of realism provided by screenplay and ensemble. Offset, or arguably neutered - Happiest Day emerges from this particular cinematic stew a strangely bland picture, indubitably the product of excellent work yet with very little to show for it. Mostly, it seems to serve little purpose, nor even know of one for itself, yet if the intention is then to relinquish all expectations of such interests and to relax into its progression of character-based scenes routinely driving forward a nonchalant plot, there's just not enough here into which to relax. Happiest Day is, as a boxing movie, refreshingly gentle and devoid of bombast, though Kuosmanen does display some directorial verve from time to time that shows greater promise than his otherwise bathetic approach; the film is either too much or too little of a good thing, depending on your perspective. With sporadic influxes of winningly droll Finnish humour, this is a charming, enjoyable picture indeed, yet it's pretty much that and that only, and that's simply not enough for me.