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The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki

Movie Review Sachin Chatte

Language: Finnish
Year of Release: 2016
Duration: 92 minutes
Section: Cinema of the World
Directed by: Juho Kuosmanen
Based on a true story, ‘The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki’ is about the boxer who had a shot at the 1962 World Championship in Helsinki. Prima facie, this appears as a sports film but unlike a typical film in that mould, it doesn’t follow the standard trajectory of an underdog story. On that count, this has a major twist.
Shot moodily in monochrome on 16 mm, we meet Olli Maki (Jarkko Lahti) who likes boxing but is not obsessed with the sport like someone who is looking to fight for the World title. So, while he loves boxing, he loves Raija (Oona Airola) even more. In fact, he is almost starts getting obsessed about her. Expectedly, his manager is not happy about it because of the timing – the boxing match is just around the corner and Olli is more concerned about their relationship than his weight and other training factors which could make all the difference on the big day.
But Olli is least bit perturbed – “I think I am in love” he tells the coach referring to Raija. As a winner of the European Lightweight title as an amateur, many consider him to be a National hero but he has no airs about it. He is also a simpleton when it comes to dealing with the press, his manager wants to hype up the fight and convey Olli’s confidence, the boxer is all too happy to give straightforward answers.
The film also sheds light on the uncomfortable nexus that exists between sponsors and sports; this was in the 1960’s, it has only got worse over the years. During a party, it is abundantly clear that for sponsors, the sportspersons are mere commodities to promote their interests.
The story telling is rather straightforward and while you expect it to take the anticipated turns, the film pleasantly surprises by taking a different direction.
Even though this is a story of a boxer, at its core, this film is about a man in love, that he is a boxer is just incidental.

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