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Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 4 / 5 / 2024

Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood


In his film column Not Hollywood' Maarten Schiethart reflects on Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's absurdist romantic comedy 'Fallen Leaves'.

'Kuolleet Lehdet' the original film title in Suomi, is Aki Kaurismäki's seemingly sentimental ploy in choreography. Filmed with radio reports on the war in Ukraine broadcast in the background, we see a couple of Helsinki's outskirts when there are new leaves, which then mature and ultimately, become fallen leaves. Filmed in beautiful pastel autumn colours we see the homes in stark contrast to the workplaces where the main characters smoke a fag under a no smoking sign. 'Kuolleet Lehdet' literally translates as dead leaves but we mainly see dust and ash until the end when we see Chaplin, the little bitch dog saved from the line-up of stray dogs about to be put to sleep, walking towards the coast with Ansa. the woman who rescued her, and with Huotari who just flushed his last bottles of vodka down the sink in his skint next door bedsit. The opening scene evolves in a clinically efficient discount supermarket - one the size of an airport hangar, it's Finland after all where space is far from sparse. She loses her job after a watchman catches her stealing a past best before date packet of biscuits. But who gives a reindeer and she quits the job as do her two colleagues in solidarity.Huotari is a craftsman of his own kind, grabbing for his pocket vodka more often than for a tool until he completely screws up, like her bosses do, like many people do and many others who just happen to pass by. Corny yet lovely absurdism brands Kaurismäki's films and what seems like a collection of intimate one-on-one theatre probes, tells a whole story. The soundtrack consists of tearjerkers in a language most won't understand, which leads to maximum disorientation. In-crowd puns to challenge film billboard adepts always lurk in the background as Kaurismäki loves to honour film directors like Ozu and Jarmusch. He now lives in Portugal which explains the sunny side of Helsinki we rarely see. His sympathy lies with the people who have to wheel and deal in order to get on with their lives.

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Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood

Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood

Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood

Fallen Leaves - Not Hollywood

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