Film: The happiest day in the life of Olli Mäki

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No sport provides as many great stories as boxing. Juho Kuosmanen portrays one Olli Mäki who spends the summer of 1962 preparing for the featherweight world championship fight.

The fact that he has about as much chance of beating the American titleholder Davey Moore as the Belgian Jean-Pierre Coopman had against Muhammad Ali does not stop the Fins from hailing him as a great national hero. Encouraged by his strict coach, the conscientious country baker trains hard. But he is actually a sweet, good-natured boy. To make matters worse – or better? – he falls madly in love with a beautiful, sweet girl with whom he gets on very well.

This is not a boxing film that whacks you against the canvas, but it will put butterflies in your stomach. The black-and-white shooting and the graininess of 16mm film are used to great effect. The actors are superlative and there are plenty of small, spontaneous scenes that are happy, poignant, and even a touch melancholy. Wonderful.

> The happiest day in the life of Olli Mäki. FI, 2016, dir.: Juho Kuosmanen, act.: Jarkko Lahti, Oona Airola, Eero Milonoff, 92 min. Aventure, Vendôme

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