The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki

Specifically, August 17, 1962 is the targeted date for a small town boxer named Olli Mäki who’s been given his shot at the World Featherweight title. Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen tells his biographical circus of “the baker of Kokkola” pitted against champion Davey Moore in black and white to capture that time period before Cassius Clay had changed the sport into a verbal sparring match. It’s always a difficult transition, whether in sports or entertainment, from local hero to the professional spotlight, and for Olli, played by Jarkko Lahti, all the glamour is secondary to the suffocating demands of advertisers’ interests, especially in light of his being distracted by Raija (Oona Airola), his hometown sweetheart. As the main event draws closer, the film’s title takes on a dual meaning, making this one of the few boxing films that’s more breathtaking than brutal.