The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki NC
In a cinema near you:
The true story of Olli Mäki, the famous Finnish boxer who had a shot at the 1962 World Featherweight title.
The general conceit of almost all boxing movies is that they're struggling against adversity to triumph; either warring with themselves or their circumstances to come out on top. Raging Bull, Rocky, Warrior and any other boxing / fighting movie have this, but what makes The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki is not that it's different, it's how it handles this trope completely different.
Jarrko Lahti is Olli Maki, a simple and good-hearted boxer who's been handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could potentially change his life. From the outset of the story, it's clear that Olli isn't used to the attention or the pressures that he's facing, but is handling it with a quiet grace and pleasant outlook. Just as he's about to kick off his training camp for the fight, he meets Raija, played by Fnnish singer Oona Airola. The two almost immediately fall in love and Olli, now lovesick, finds it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Couple that with his pushy manager recognising this and the fact that he doesn't seem all that in love with boxing anymore, it's clear that Olli has some struggles and adversity on his hand.
Yet, there are no moments of explosive emotion or Oscar-bait scenery chewing. Instead, the performances are all natural and unfettered and the whole film is shot in the style of French New Wave - all black-and-white 16mm and handheld camera positions. This gives the film an authenticity that makes its raw energy of it so compelling. Likewise, the chemistry between Olli and Raija feels real and it's all so sweet and honest that you can't help but fall in love with them. Director Juho Kuosmanen makes smart use of his cast and really allows for improvisation and a fast but measured pace. The film doesn't sag and zips along its 90-odd minute runtime, ably jumping through the scenes with the lightness of a boxer and with an emotional punch to boot.
Funny, sweet and romantic, The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki blends together different elements to create something that's both unique and comfortingly familiar. Highly recommended.
Review by Brian Lloyd | 16:45 | Friday 21st April 2017 | Movie Review