As a Finn myself, I'm ashamed to admit I was never a fan of the Kaurismäki brothers until I heard of this one scooping up the awards (or at least nominations, as in the case of the Oscars), and promptly got my hands on it. It is amazing! If this doesn't restore your belief in human nature and and the goodness of life, nothing will. One Finnish critic said it's a movie which "stays with you for many days", and it sure does, making you feel all warm every time you think back to it.
It's part of Kaurismäki's 'Finland trilogy'; the others being Drifting Clouds (Kauas Pilvet Karkaavat) and Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin Valot). The films show you the Finnish society, warts and all, from the viewpoint of the less-fortunate but hard working, whose high moral integrity is being tested by the harshness of the mainstream society. Without any patriotic pathos or, for that matter, too much overt self-loathing, the image portrayed is of a world a bit rough around the edges but still worth the struggle to live in.
I found Kaurismäki's use of technology props to highlight the difference between the well-to-do mainstream middle classes and the movies' characters particularly interesting. Seeing how the characters live in disused freight containers, drive 50-year-old cars (if any), eat potato soup and 'borrow' electricity from the nearby pylons, you'd think the movie is set in the '40s. But every time the 'normal' people feature, there are scenes of modern medical equipment, brand new cars (large new Volvo estate as the taxi which the main character takes in the end), etc. In fact, you can work out a character's degree of wealth and 'mainstreamness' from the amount and sophistication of technology they have at their disposal. A valuable reminder of how even in today's internet and high tech society (and even in a country such as Finland which leads mobile comms etc. usage statistics) there remains a division between the have's and have-not's.