Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen,
Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki reasserts himself as the master of the wry, melancholy comedy with his first film in six years, the winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize. Jussi Vatanen and Alma Pöysti star as two lonely souls living in Helsinki who find their possible love connection thwarted when he accidentally loses her number. Those enamored with Kaurismäki’s previous gems, such as The Man Without a Past and Le Havre, will find much to savor in this lovely portrait of downbeat individuals who haven’t given up on happy endings. The performances are precisely calibrated for maximum deadpan pleasure in a movie that contains plenty of winking nods to world-class filmmakers such as Yasujiro Ozu and Jim Jarmusch. But as always with Kaurismäki, the droll tone is offset by piercing sympathy for his characters, who battle alcoholism, working-class drudgery, and painful pasts as they try to forge a bond. As its title suggests, Fallen Leaves exudes a crisp, autumnal air—its quiet beauty as natural and effortless as the change of seasons.