Review: ‘Three Wise Men’

Mika Kaurismaki's "Three Wise Men" is quite reminiscent of John Cassavetes "Husbands," as accessorized with a Finnish twist.

Defiantly uncommercial but deeply felt, film vet Mika Kaurismaki’s “Three Wise Men” is quite reminiscent of John Cassavetes “Husbands,” as accessorized with a Finnish twist: A trio of old friends, all in crisis on Christmas Eve, reunite, drink and share their feelings. Except they’re all lying to each other, and for at least half the movie.

Kaurismaki apparently made the film in five days without a script, having his actors improvise, and it shows. And yet there are moments of profound feeling that erupt among the three not-so-wise men, one of whom has just become a father, one of whom has just lost his ex-wife and son, and one of whom wants to kill himself. The entrance into their bar of a mysterious woman (the ravishing Irina Bjorklund) elevates the film to a level of vodka-sodden spirituality that can’t be denied by all the dangling boom mikes and missed cues in the world. Kaurismaki (“Tigrero,” “Zombie and the Ghost Train”) may be doing an ironic riff on male bonding, but the sincerity is there regardless.

Three Wise Men



A Marianna Films Oy presentation. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced, directed, edited by Mika Kaurismaki. Screenplay, Kaurismaki, Petri Karra.


Camera (color, HD), Rauno Ronkainen. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 8, 2008. Running time: 98 MIN.


Kari Heiskanen, Pertti Sveholm, Timo Torikka, Irina Bjorklund, Tommi Eronen.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety