The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(16user reviews)
The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki

A Finnish boxer falls in love in this gorgeously upbeat sporting romance

The true story of a long-forgotten Finnish featherweight’s crack at the world boxing title in the late 1960s is the jumping-off point for this unexpectedly lyrical drama about life’s innocent pleasures – and surely one of the year’s most charming arthouse treats. Captured in atmospheric 16mm black-and-white, Juho Kuosmanen’s film is a deceptively simple recreation of the run-up to the big bout. Jarkko Lahti is Olli Mäki, a wiry, modest 25-year-old country baker and fighter who struggles to cope with the hype whipped up by his ambitious manager. Really, he’d much prefer to be spending time with the new love he’s just met at a wedding.

Thanks to Lahti’s instantly likeable performance, we’re soon rooting for him, and the movie slowly reveals itself as a parable about all that is lost when professionalism, greed and image-conscious PR muscle in on the purity of sport. With its loving recreation of the period, this is a must for vintage design fans. But what’s most remarkable is how the film somehow avoids the trap of twee nostalgia. Instead, it’s an authentic celebration of the timeless delights of country bike rides and skimming stones. Absolutely lovely.

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Release date:
Friday April 21 2017
93 mins

Cast and crew

Juho Kuosmanen
Juho Kuosmanen
Jarkko Lahti
Oona Airola

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:10
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I loved this film.

Set in my favourite era, the 60s, initially I thought it had been made in the 60s too- it's all in black and white for a start and it has the feel of a genuinely old-school movie.

It has a lot of humanity in it, a story about a very humble guy with a great talent, who just longs for the simple life.

There's a good balance of extremes (beyond being in black and white): humour and seriousness; peace and noise; competition and contempt; love and violence.

The cast are all very convincing, making it feel more like a fly-on-the-wall documentary than a movie.

Ollie's manager, serious, money-hungry and with an agenda to satisfy his own priorities, is the perfect contrast to Ollie's love interest who is uncomplicated and down to earth.

Films like this one do not get into the mainstream too often, making this feel particularly special and deserving of the awards it's bound to receive.


I do love a true story and this movie didn't disappoint! I imagine if it was a Hollywood production it would be a lot more aggressive and dramatic but I loved the simplicity and honest way this film was shot. I found the sound quite jumpy, from mild to really loud all of a sudden but this did make you feel more immersed in the film. A great watch for those both interested in sport and love stories.


The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki is so much more than a boxing movie – it’s about life, love, loss, hard work, and working out what really matters to you. Beautifully captured, this black and white move – which is also entirely in Finnish – doesn’t fail to entice and capture your heart. This film is definitely a must-see movie. 


Thanks to Timeout & MUBI I was able to see this charming new film on the eve of its release (in utter comfort may I add).

The film revolves around the Finnish boxer, Olli Maki, in the upcoming weeks to his match for the World Champion title - a first of its kind to be hosted in Helsinki. The leading actor and actress are instantly likeable and their fun, lovable relationship is the key to the story. These scenes indispersed with the training, media attention and funding issues, lighten the film. A film of 1 hour 30 minutes, filmed in B&W and by fantastic Finnish actors (with subtitles) only adds to the charm. Thoroughly heart warming. 

P.s don't worry if you're not in to boxing!

The world does not need another boxing movie, and fortunately Olli Maki delivers so much more. 

Beautifully written and shot - this piece in Black and White with subtitles makes the viewer work a little, but not half as hard as the eponymous boxer. 

Its a glimpse of reality. The man - his passions and his loves - and those around him trying to manipulate it all for their own gain.

Really enjoyed it - and now know about MUBI which is no bad thing.

Just signed up to their download service.

More of this please.


The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is not a success in my eyes unfortunately. It's not my cup of tea and I definitely wouldn't go and see this again. I must agree that the romance and the creativity is there, but it lacks something. The monochrome style to the movie adds a very peculiar nature to the storyline and I could definitely sense a 60s vibe in this Finnish movie. The subtitles went by quite quickly, so that was a little difficult to follow.

There isn't a suspense or an excitement for me when I watched the movie, but Olli Mäki who is played by (Jarkko Lahti) displays a heartfelt emotion. What was the happiest day of his life? Was it the boxing or was it his love?

His love, compassion and companionship with Raija (Oona Airola) was quite sweet and humble. They had scenes that made me laugh. Everyone backed Olli to win the boxing championship. His extreme dieting and brutal training was quite excruciating to experience. He had to make very important decisions to make his career a success. Olli had to please and follow the demanding requests of Eelis Ask (Eero Milonoff). It was a slight disappointment to see Olli Mäki lose the world championship in front of a crammed stadium.

I did feel at times that the movie was a little rushed. It all happened too quickly and then the ending was slightly odd. A little tricky to understand what was going on towards the end.

I must admit that it shows the dramatic, intense life of a boxer and what they actually have to go through to be the best. It's tough and competitive as is everywhere, but Olli Mäki demonstrated his dedication and drive to be the best in his career. This may not be a film for all, but many will find it quite engaging.


Love MD.


A love story with an underlying theme of boxing? This storyline sounds rather flimsy to me so I sat down to watch this film with not a lot of expectation and boy was I wrong to assume this would be rubbish. 

The film was everything I love in a film, a few questions unanswered (did they, didnt they?), an insight into Finnish life (apparent the film is accurate with the portrayal of Finns who are direct and don't speak too much), interesting shooting and a great storyline that definitely is no Disney portrayal. 

The actors in this film are endearing and you fall in love with all the characters. Olli cares for Raija by quieting the boys who are making a noise whilst she's singing, Raija's parents care for Oli despite him forgetting he was going to a wedding and Raija cares for Olli by not dobbing him in (he ate a sausage). Even the tough manager, Elis, who shows a different side when his wife goes a bit nutty at him for not bringing home enough money. 

There was a little bit of cheeky nudity. Again this isn't Hollywood so it's not the conventional heroine disrobing this time! 

You will come away from the film smiling, hoping you will find love like how Olli and Raija did or simply you wish to be able to skim stones like they do.


The film centre's around the Finnish amateur turned pro boxer Olli Maki played by Jarkko Lahti. He begins training for the World Boxing Association Featherweight competion in Helsinki. This isn't a film all about boxing and is in fact more about love, after Olli attends a wedding and is attracted to, eventually falling in love with his friend, Raija (Oona Airola). What ensures is a beautiful yet incredibly simple depiction of how Olli tries and fails to manage his time to prepare for the fight, under the watchful eye of his manage Elis (Eero Milonoff) whilst sneaking away to be with the girl he loves. 

Shot in black and white it was an absolute delight to watch such a feel good film, there are parts of it that had me laughing in sheer delight, one example being when Olli tells Elis he thinks he has fallen in love. Juho Kuosmanen directs with a lightness where even when you know the stakes are incredibly high, the tension is broken and you just laugh at absurdity of the situations. 

It shows the simple things in life are the most important, Lahti shows Maki's utter contentment at being with Raija, walking together or skimming stones by the lake. 

Films like this one reminds me there is more to cinema than your everyday Hollywood blockbuster. To sit back and enjoy what you are being shown, without knowing or predicting the outcome was a rarity, and an absolute joy to experience.


The Happiest Day in the life of Olli Maki isn't a film that I would generally chose to watch. It's a Finnish, black and white movie set in the 1960s. It follows the lead up and training endured by Olli to a monumental boxing match.

The film focusses on the whole of Olli's life including his emotions and struggles during his training. Boxing is only a small part of the film.

It's filmed very simply but makes you realise the importance of the small things in life.


The Happiest Day in the life of Olli Maki is about Finnish boxer and European amateur champion Olli Maki, but it is not a boxing film as you would expect it. Instead, it is a delicate and sweet story that portrays the struggles, emotions, and feelings of 'The baker of Kokolla' Olli .In Finnish and in black & white, this inspiring film is ultimately about love and will make you think of what is it that in life matters the most to you.


If you hope to see a sport movie with lots of fights and blood, you ‘d be disappointed. Although it follows the real story of Olli Mäki, a simple village baker-cum-boxer on his way to what it is supposed to be the greatest fight in his life, it really is a portrait of someone who struggles with the pressure and expectations in the circumstances created for him.

Ollie is a humble chap who clearly doesn’t feel comfortable in the role of a champion and with the attention he’s getting. He’d rather ride a bike with his new girlfriend than steal limelight, to the dissatisfaction of his manager. 

Feelings seem to be the obstacle in Ollie's training and preparations throughout the whole movie, but it is his gentle side that make him so adorable.  

Beautifully shot on 16mm black and white film, with its signature graininess, the film feels very authentic and arty in its simplicity. A must watch of this spring season. 


I had very few expectations going into this film. I watched the trailer and had been describing it as a Finish boxing movie to friends. 

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki is so much more than that. 

The underlying plot of the movie is this beautiful love story that is shown through sweet looks and tiny touches. While this is a boxing film is it not like the ones we are used to seeing. You watch as Maki is pressured into the wrong weight class and cringe as he struggles to lose weight while enduing a high intensity training regime. 

That said, this is not an intense film. There are many adorable moments and bits of humour that are rooted in mundane tasks and realizations. 

I left feeling uplifted and satisfied and am so glad I was introduced to a film I wouldn't have seen on my own.  


This is not quite a love story, and not quite a sports movie. It's a delight to watch, and a clever commentary on contemporary media.

The Olli Maki's story is set close enough for the audience to relate to, but far enough to highlight many changes. From the grainy black and white, to the slow and long cuts it highlight contemporary attitudes to high definition, glossy 3D Michael Bay Hollywood blockbusters. Olli's attitude to the media, and to the world championship fight again reinforce its position to our contemporary phenomenon.


The Happiest Day in the Lige of Olli Maki is a Finnish movie set in 1962, covering the buildup to the boxing world championship. It's in black and white with subtitles which took awhile for me to get used to. I wouldn't normally choose to watch a boxing movie but Olli Maki does also have a parallel love story to contrast the brutal training involved with preparing for the world championship. There's nothing flashy about this film but I feel like it gives an honest portrayal of life in 1962 and it was nice to see that it didn't give in to the glitzy Hollywood mold. Even if boxing isn't your thing, there is more to Olli Maki, helping it appeal to a wider audience.

Although this film wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would definitely recommend it. The film is a true story that follows Olli Maki and his upcoming world championship boxing match. The film was presented in black and white which I thought added to the experience. Don’t get caught up in the fact that it’s a boxing movie… it’s definitely a great love story as well! Don’t miss the very last scene when the real Olli Maki and his wife are shown walking along the river and the actor’s comment that they hope they will be as happy as them one day. A nice touch!


The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki is a charming rendition of a true story - a very sweet one at that that. 

Olli is an instantly loveable character with a cheeky smile and a shoulder-shrugging attitude which follows through the film. We follow his journey from his home town to Helsinki where he begins a perilous journey uphill towards world champion title, in a weight category that is quite clearly wrong for him. There's struggle here - weight loss, time management, public vs personal life - but most importantly, love.

There's no need to look for a complicated or hidden message in the film. It's a simple proposition: love renders us mad. In a good way. Which means instead of focusing on his promising boxing career, from the moment Olli declares he has fallen in love, we all know he's lost interest. So the film becomes sweet and endearing and agrees with all our hearts. Olli's love interest, Raija, is a beautiful girl with the widest smile, a beam of light, and she is a pleasure to watch on screen.

What is The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki really about? It's not about boxing, and it is. It's about being in love, really, and choosing what's right. It's a light, enjoyable watch, and listening to the beautiful melody of the Finnish language is an added plus. Highly recommended for a sunny Saturday afternoon with biscuits and tea.