Throughout the course of one night, we are driven around in five separate taxi cabs that range from familiar ports of L.A. and New York City to the echoing streets of Paris and Rome to the final ride through the frozen-over metropolis of Helsinki, right as the sun is rising. In Los Angeles, a big-time agent (Gena Rowlands) tries to seduce her rough-and-tumble cab driver (an insolent Winona Ryder) into becoming an actress. While in New York, a jerky Brooklynite (the superb Giancarlo Esposito) teaches his German cab driver (Armin Mueller-Stahl) how to drive, talk, and jive correctly while also trying to escort his sister-in-law (Rosie Perez) home.
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The guy has a point. But The Man Without a Past is able to get away with such things -- making them sweet and, heck, even cute -- because Kaurismäki has an unerring sense of tone control. Like stone-faced Buster Keaton, his laconic actors drift through the trash-ridden outskirts of Helsinki waiting to see what chance and fate throw in their laps. They're outcast heroes leftover from one of Keaton's films, or maybe Chaplin (and, actually, some much better Jim Jarmusch films). Smoking endless cigarettes and trading witty repartee back and forth, they're an amusing cast of resilient, coarse, dead-end clowns.
Continue reading: The Man Without A Past Review
The movie begins filming in the UK.