The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
In the summer of 1962, a small town baker named Olli Mäki (Jarkko Lahti) has a shot at the world championship title in featherweight boxing if he can defeat the American title holder Davey Moore (John Bosco Jr.). From the Finnish countryside to the bright lights of Helsinki, his slick, ambitious manager has prepared everything for Olli’s fame and fortune… and his own. All Olli needs to do is lose weight and concentrate. But there is a problem—he has fallen in love with the country lass Raija (Oona Airola). Based on a true story, this gorgeous black-and-white drama extols the virtues of finding your own way to happiness regardless of outside expectations.
"A lyrical sense of bittersweet acceptance permeates freshman director Juho Kuosmanen’s marvelous sports biopic from its very first, perfectly composed frame. This vérité-style study of the eponymous fighter’s preparation for a home-turf title fight against a daunting American champ is less preoccupied with in-the-ring action than with the equally draining rigors of the publicity circuit. It punches its way into the upper ranks of cinematic pugilist portraits by virtue of its exquisite craft and a lead performance of heart-bruising melancholy… Olli Mäki’s warm, crinkled humanity, cockeyed humour and gorgeous, utterly immersive evocation of a less-distant-than-it-looks past exert a surprisingly universal arthouse pull… Remarkable…”—Guy Lodge, Variety
Grand Prize, Un Certain Regard, Cannes 16