Shot in grainy black-and-white 16mm, the adorable The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is a rare example of a sports drama where matters of the heart are of greater importance than matters of the ring. Under its gloves lies the gooey core of an indelibly sweet love story.
The central conflict of the story is refreshingly under-dramaticised – a lesser film would have Olli’s fiancé Raija (Oona Airola) demanding “it’s either me or the boxing” – but their quiet strength and mutual understanding is such that their bond remains emotionally captivating without any phony disputes.
A hidden gem in this year’s Cannes lineup, Olli Mäki offers both visceral boxing thrills and as delightful a love story as you’ll see in a film of any genre.
CAST: Jarkko Lahti, Oona Airola, Eero Milonoff, John Bosco Jr.
DIRECTOR: Juho Kuosmanen
WRITERS: Juho Kuosmanen & Mikko Myllylahti
SYNOPSIS: Olli Mäki (Lahti), the European Featherweight champion, prepares to fight the World champion Davey Moore (Bosco Jr.) in his native Finland.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki was screened in Un Certain Regard at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.