Black and white – that adds half a star to my rating. Shallow, I know, but there is something about black and white that suffuses me with pleasure. This lovely Finnish film is about a boxer, Olli Mäki, who has the potential to be world champion, a first for Finland in 1962. That beautiful black and white camera follows Olli as he trains, grapples with the publicity and pressure and falls in love with Raija.
There is nothing really surprising about the story arc, the film goes where you might expect, but the recreation of 1960s Finland is wonderful. From the cars and clothes to the domestic realities and media styles, it feels authentic, observational. There are some exquisite scenes – watch for the one where Olli emerges from the sauna and walks to the lake, the steam rising from his body. Jarkko Lahti as Olli and Oona Airola as Raija are engaging and believable. Beautiful.
Bechdel test – pass