The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (2016) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
10 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
A feel good boxing movie!
frankde-jong26 October 2019
It may seem surprising, but there are other directors in the land of Aki Kaurismaki. And they are making enjoyable films as well. "The happiest day ... " is a small but pleasant production situated in the '60s.

For the boxing genre the film is remarkable relaxed. This time not a touchy flammable Jake La Motta as the main character ("Raging bull", 1980, Martin Scorsese) but the somewhat shy Olli Maki. Olli is very realistic about his chances of becoming world champion in his weight class, but he has luckily other interests too.

In Holland the film showed only for a very short period of time and only in a couple of art house theaters, but it is nonetheless well worth seeing.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Victory of Common Life!!
gokselll4 July 2019
A baker in Finland, through an unsuspected order in his life, finds himself in exercises for boxing world championship whereas he was joining only amateur competitions before ten matches. This is a movie of an ordinary man's falling in limbo of his common life and the new life surrounded by sponsors, journalists, filmmakers, parties, feasts and shows. Olli's girlfriend represents his ordinary and peaceful life while the championship represents the new life. Movie has great scenes knitted by awesome cinematography and acting performances; plain, unexagerrated and aesthetic.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Boxing pic falls short of pre-event hype
rossumrobot12 October 2016
With a prize at Cannes, favourable reviews and complimentary buzzwords (such as 'delightful' and 'impeccable') all in the mix, you could be forgiven for believing that European cinema had chanced upon the next 'Cinema Paradiso' or 'Amelie' and unearthed the next great take on heartwarming universality. Despite this, my suspicion is that the average cinema goer will ultimately come away from viewing 'The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki' slightly underwhelmed.

It would probably help to accurately define what it is, but here the film isn't shy of a bit of bobbing and weaving. Is it a boxing movie, is it a love story, is it a lovingly recreated slice of history, is it a tale of 'the little man facing mighty odds', is it a wry look at sporting optimism tainted by commercialism and self-interest? In truth, the movie invites each of these elements into the ring, feints and jabs with them, but without ever really hitting any of these targets square on.

The bulk of the story is devoted to Olli's pre-fight schedule, in the days immediately preceding the big match. So there's plenty of sparring, running and sweating on view, but this is also interlaced with the multiple promotional and commercial events Olli must attend in order to satisfy the sponsors and financiers of the bout. Rather than developing Olli's character (which remains fairly fixed as an affable, modest everyman) this routine is most successful at conveying how an event, which is billed as one man's dream, can incrementally drift away and become something he almost no longer recognises as his own. A man who merely wishes to test his talent, suddenly finds himself as a performer in a grand spectacle, carrying the weight of a nation's expectation on his shoulders. It's not 'one giant leap' to imagine a biopic of astronaut Neil Armstrong treading a similar path.

If I haven't mentioned the love story until this juncture, it's probably because, despite it producing some of the film's best moments, its presence feels a little token. Narratively, it teases us with the possibility that Raija is a distraction for Olli, dislodging his focus from 'his dream' or instead that she is actually the only genuine thing he has left to hold on to; especially given the fickle nature of the 'media circus' surrounding him. Whether it's preparing for sleep in a children's bunk bed, a stolen kiss at a local wedding reception or stealing an evening for themselves away from the pre-fight hoopla, Raija's wide-eyed openness and Olli's shuffling chivalry certainly imbue the film with some much needed emotional texture, but it's not enough. Given that we've had no access to them before the whole machinery of the 'big event' is in motion, for the most part, it's difficult to see them as much more than chess pieces in a game not of their own making.

The performances of the two leads and that of Eero Milonoff, as Olli's scheming promoter, all do the film credit, and as an impressively rendered piece of history, it's easy to see the film resonating with a domestic audience. But the rest of the art-house crowd may find the current 7.8 average IMDb rating a little generous; 6.8 is probably closer to the mark. (insert your own joke about the film not being a 'knockout' here)
27 out of 46 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Falling in love and rising in boxing!
Reno-Rangan14 March 2017
This is a Finnish sport-biopic that was an official submission for the 2017 Oscars, but did not make it. Despite inspired by a real person, the film only focused on one event, a big event of his life. Sets in the early 60s, the country's one of the biggest sporting event is about to take place. So the pre-event incidents, including the preparation and all those related affairs were detailed in this film.

It's hard to say that everybody would end up liking it. Especially the sport segment. That's a major drawback of the film, but the other way around this is still very good. Only if you are okay with the facts over entertainment. So as I'm who already saw the film want to give a piece of advice for those who are yet to see it that watch it as a romance film. Yep, it is a better romance film than a boxing film. That's not how the pre developments swings, but it gets there a little late and then ends with an unexpected twist.

An amateur boxer Olli Maki got a shot at pro boxing, so he's heading Helsinki and making preparation to face the strongest opponent coming from the United States. Not just for him, but for the whole country, it is a historical event. So the pressure is on Olli's team to make the right progress, especially to please their sponsors. Seems it was a smooth ride, until Olli find himself in an unwanted distraction, particularly at that time which is a turning point in his professional life. This is the flavour of romance and the boxing, can those two go along? Is what the remaining film carefully revealed.

❝This is the shittiest moment to fall in love.❞

Like any sports films we had seen, this film as well all about pre event hype and the final act is given to the grand finale on the ring. Looks 'Cutie and the Boxer' should have been a perfect title, but this is nothing like that documentary film. It was not Olli's whole life, it was his falling and rising. Falling in love and rising to be a great boxer in Finland. But the problem is, both the things happening on the same time. More like romance versus profession. It's off the ring battle for Olli and can he win it, followed by a real battle.

Now you would remember other awesome boxing films where love story and boxing had met like 'Rocky', 'Cinderella Man' and many more. This film is not comparable with them, that's the saddest part of it. It's a black and white film, and the filmmakers say that's because to take us 60 years back to Finland. They used film rolls like the old way of filmmaking. Indeed, it worked, it was the backbone of the film along the great cast. There are many characters, but revolved around only 3-4. The dialogues were minimised and let the pictures talk.

The good news it was a 90 minute film with a decent pace. The one who played Olli was really good, but even in little lesser than that role, Raija enchants us. I can't forget that smile, it still appears front my eyes. Not just Olli, you might as well fall for her (at least for the actress who player that character). I also come to know the real couple's cameo for a brief was in the final scene. This is not the finest Finnish film I've seen, but I respect biopics as they tell the truth. It seems a better film for the older and matured guys, like above 30-35. But stay away if you are looking for a pleasure.

4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
To him it is a happy day
Gordon-118 February 2017
This film tells the story of an amateur boxer in Finland, who decides to challenge the World Champion of boxing from the USA. He gets an agent and invites the champion to Finland for a round of home fight. The story then concentrates on how he prepares for this major tournament in Finland.

The film is black and white, which is appropriate as it is set int he 1960's. The story is about this simple man who seems to have no idea what he is doing. Olli is about to fight the match of his lifetime, and yet he is so nonchalant about it. His heart has clearly another agenda, which is not aligned with his agent's agenda. It makes me wonder why he is doing the match in the first place. His attitude and behaviour leads to the eventual inevitable outcome, but I still feel for him. Olli does have his charms, just not in the boxing ring.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Most enjoyable
nannyhimmy24 April 2017
I really enjoyed this movie. I thought I might be put off by the black and white or that it would be dull (I'm not terribly interested in boxing) but instead I loved the black and white - it was incredibly beautiful, and I never found myself bored. Instead it was sweet and charming and very romantic and I found my self both chuckling and at other times, with tears welling up. Very nicely done. My husband, who is more an action adventure kind of guy - liked it enough but didn't love it as much as I did.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a sketch
Kirpianuscus2 June 2018
A beautiful film. not memorable. but real nice. about love, sport, media pressure, a honest and modest man . nothing to reproach . nothing bad. only sin - impression to see a sketch. the viewer options for colors and lines, for define it as boxing story or love story is the thing who transforms the film as a spring drawing. the absence of director to give real roots to the story is, maybe, the lead error. sure, it is a biopic and the "true events" are enough for a reasonable adaptation. but you expect more than a neutre , interesting portrait. sure, one of good points is the predictability of story. you know the end. you expect it. and the basic motif for not be bored or apathetic is the performances of Oona Airola,Jarkko Lahti and Eero Milonoff. I admitt, I expected with enthusiasm to see this film. and I was not dissapointed. because it is a beautiful film.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Must See Finnish Delight
vg404 March 2018
I and my wife watched it together. Totally lovable film, story. Enjoy a side of boxing, sports mostly ignored in artistic representation. Women will like this movie esp.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Must See Finnish Film! It's hard not to be amazed by it!
vg4019 February 2018
Very, very good film. An unusual one with the boxing theme. Must see it. It will stay for you long after it has ended. 1962, black and White, Finnish movie. Amazing.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An exquisite feel-good sporting film
Ron_Solina11 August 2021
The euphoric feeling one derives from the simplest of life's pleasures assuredly would always be either ethereal or bestial in origin. And for most people who do not give much thought to such notions, including the titular character as seen in the film itself, it abruptly comes, and the awareness lands like a sucker punch, especially when one realizes it much later rather than sooner.

A candid but earnest early 1960s period piece about a Finnish prizefighter Olli Mäki is a straightforward retelling of his venture to challenge the then-current world featherweight champion, the legendary American Davey Moore. The unembellished details laid out all from his drudging routine in getting himself match-fit to dealing with the media publicity that follows him to placating fight promoters and sponsors too excited in hosting the world championship title fight in Helsinki. The pressure mounts, but that impertinent Cupid always has other plans that benefit an unorthodox sporting narrative.

In the pantheon of great boxing films, this Kuosmanen film debut deserves its place alongside the Scorsese masterpiece. Overall, it is like a buoyant but never cloying folksy ballad to Raging Bull's rueful and tempestuous classical. Quite an excellent contrast.

The interplay between the acting trifecta is just as comparable. The LaMotta biopic showcases the boisterous performances of Moriarty and Pesci that balances that of De Niro's unbridled magnificence in his scorching depiction of the Italian brawler. The reservedness portrayed by an astounding Lahti as the reluctant sporting national hero, on the other hand, exudes an aloofness that subtly draws a perceptive viewer to him instead of being repelled. Inspired performances from Airola and Milonoff as his girlfriend and his coach, respectively, both serve as the bedrock of his existence, complements him with their support that has that refreshing hint of insouciance.

Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, the operatic theme that figures predominantly as the main anthem in the Scorsese biopic, intensifies the melancholy and effectively softens the dire but sporadically turbulent narrative non-diegetically. The Finnish film, though, has an upbeat jazzy-brassy tune in its opening and closing credits by the Ykspihlaja Cinema Orchestra, a group to which the romantic female lead Airola also belongs.

Even though for a boxing film that only tangentially deals with the historical sporting bout in its pivotal center, it is in the things that sidetrack the athlete's focus that the film delves in, seeing the beauty and wisdom in the banality and the constant turmoil of obligations versus scruples. The scenes logically transition from one to the next despite a somewhat bumpy start that goes more smoothly as the story progresses. The director's logical use of that marvelously crisp black-and-white photography makes sure the audience concentrates on the character's contemplation and gaze. An artistic decision that serves Raging Bull as well, but that one is to accomplish the opposite as far as the gaze is concerned.

And quite befitting for the film to end by having the real-life couple whose story has just unfolded walk past their cinematic counterparts. It is quite a sumptuous dessert, especially for those already numbed by a constant diet of world-weary content despite its seeming prosaicness. It is a very much welcome antidote to cynicism seasoned with that intrinsically Finnish dry humor.

In rating this beta guy boxing film, this deservedly gets an alpha.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed