The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (2017; Juho Kuosmanen)
By Daniel Barnes
*Opening Friday, May 5, at the Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.
Shot in a hazy and washed-out black-and-white, and so slight and unassuming that it barely qualifies as a movie, this true story about the titular Finnish boxer training for the fight of his life is mostly notable for what it’s not.
It’s NOT a sports movie, it’s NOT a love story and it’s NOT interested in biopic beats. It’s not even that interested in its protagonist, an introverted boxer distracted from his upcoming 1962 title bout with American pugilist Davey Moore by the loves of a blonde.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is NOT a lot of things, and is seemingly more influenced by wispy, shoe-gazing indies like Tu Dors Nicole and Baden Baden than by traditional demands for conflict, context, emotional catharsis, and all the other elements of drama that were good enough for Hawks and Ford but somehow offend the contemporary sensibilities of disaffected hacks.
Instead, The Happiest Day… becomes more of a dithering hangout movie. The film luxuriates in gliding bike rides and long walks through the woods. It’s warm and enveloping like the afternoon sun, easily digestible and easily forgettable.