By Leah Rozen
April 14, 2003 12:00 PM

Marrku Peltola, Kati Outinen

Critic’s Choice

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Finland’s recent Oscar nominee for foreign film is a bit like last year’s Adam Sandler comedy Punch Drunk Love: a romantic fable so consciously absurd in tone, so deliberately deadpan—even the most urgent (subtitled) dialogue isn’t said with any more emphasis than a request for a coffee refill—that we scarcely realize we’re falling in love with the film itself. It’s a sweet, lyrical, oddball charmer.

Mugged on his way to a new job, a metal worker (Peltola) is proclaimed dead at the hospital. He bolts upright as soon as the medical staff leaves, tweaks his shattered nose back into shape and stumbles off without a clue to his identity or past. Now home-less and not terribly interested in discovering who he was, he falls in love with a Salvation Army majorette named Irma. Outinen, who looks like Lisa Kudrow worn down by suffering, plays Irma with the stoic resignation of a saint and the poignant comic yearning of a girl lacking a prom date. She quietly lifts the story to a metaphysical plane: Opposing tendrils of erotic longing and religious joy touch, entwine, become one. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: Memorable

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