The Man Without a Past (2002) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The second part of Aki Kaurismäki's "Finland" trilogy, the film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or anything from his past life, he cannot get a job or an apartment, so he starts living on the outskirts of the city and slowly starts putting his life back on track.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • *************************************SPOILERS***********************

    As a non Finnish speaker I watched this with Finnish Subtitles to Finnish dialogue. This therefore is my limited understanding of the movie.

    A Man is attacked by three younger men. The attack is vicious and the first man is robbed and left for dead. He somehow staggers to the hospital where he is thought lost and left by the medical staff only to jump up and leave the place. He is robbed of his boots whilst prone by water but luck has him taken in by people that care for him rather than misuse him. He as he slowly recovers has lost his memory and therefore spends the rest of the film unable to do more than survive via the relative kindness of others.

    Two youngsters and their mother. A Male friend of hers too. Blind Lemon Jefferson on the sound track and other songs provide clues to the Mystery Man's love of music.

    The attacked man finds accommodation (at a price) essentially a container. Salvation Army personnel help him and others. And one female Salvation Army officer particular become part of his life. He starts to help the Army in their work.

    He adds modern or fairly modern songs to the Salvation Army's musical quartet's reportoir and a female Salvation Army leader becomes their singer. He stumbles on the fact that he may have been a welder of some skill. He has already proved he can organise and is gifted a dog. Hannibal.

    On a visit to the bank - it is robbed and he and a female teller are locked in a vault. The police now take an interest in this mystery man and his identity is sought via the Press.

    The lawyer that springs him is quite a funny turn. I have never heard a Finnish accent like that gentleman's. Almost undecipherable to me at least. The bank robber later finds him and yields up his ill gotten gains before I assume killing himself Our mystery man spread tht money around his acquaintances and later in the film we find out what part of it was for. His identity is found and he travels to meet the wife he had forgotten who was divorcing him at the time he went missing and that was now complete.

    It allowed both of them to continue leading their new lives. Another man for the ex-wife and Salvation Army lady for our former Mystery Man.

    On the way back to Helsinki the three attackers from the start of the film are encountered again but this time he is not alone. The bad men's fates are left to our imagination but I suspect the police were not troubled till later. The man and his new love exit across a railway track.

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