Set in nineteenth-century Finland, this is situational comedy at its absolute best. A grumpy village wife sends her husband to borrow some matches from their next-lake neighbor. On his way, the poor fellow meets an old drinking buddy and gets completely sidetracked, forgetting all about the task at hand in order to help his friend marry the girl of his dreams (which he ultimately does in the end - never mind it's a totally different girl). A bitter-sweet confusion follows, resulting in a drunken brawl, a prison sentence, a ship sinking on its way to America, several weddings being arranged then called off, finally culminating in the hero's own "funeral". Side-splitting but done with great taste and style.
The film - and the novel of the same name it's based on - offer a rare sympathetic glimpse into the life of rural 19th-century Finland. The movie succeeds in conveying the novel's biggest strength: its characters, uneducated but amazing men and women whose simple hearts are bursting with love and hope. A rare gem worthy of being on the "Best ever" list.
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