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7.7
/10
1,064 Ratings

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki

Hymyilevä mies

Directed by Juho Kuosmanen
Finland, Germany, 2016
Drama, Sport, Biography
  • Finnish
  • English

Synopsis

Finland, 1962. Boxer Olli Mäki has a shot at the World Featherweight title. Immensely talented and equally modest, Olli’s small town life is transformed when he’s swept into national stardom and suddenly regarded as a symbol of his country. There’s only one problem: Olli has just fallen in love.

Our take

A knock-out debut and the triumphant winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes, this 60s-set Nordic charmer from Juho Kuosmanen is based on the true story of one of the most romantic of boxers. Shot on gorgeously monochrome 16mm film, there’s one thing for sure: this film will make you happier.

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki Directed by Juho Kuosmanen
Where significance lies is unmistakable: not in the boxing ring, where Olli fights for his country, nor at the press conferences where he’s pressured to play up to the media, but in the simple moments of connectedness that he shares with Raija, the woman he loves. There’s something rare and quietly thrilling about the contention that a woman might fulfil a man not by backing his aspirations, tolerating his bad behaviour or giving him motherly pep talks, but simply by being herself.
April 20, 2017
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The film deepens quietly. This is Mr. Kuosmanen’s first feature (he has directed a few shorts), and if he had any rookie jitters you wouldn’t know it. It’s a bit of a narrative slow-boil — the story arrives in pieces, in disconnected scenes and conversational fragments — but it grabs you right from the start. The most obvious reason is the dense, luxuriant black-and-white cinematography, which is very pleasurable in its own right.
April 20, 2017
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Juho Kuosmanen’s first feature, touching and true, is a naturalistic black-and-white boxing film/love story. It is formally audacious, with a glorified verité style and no score, but it also shows a wise, warm understanding of people.
October 14, 2016
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