About the Film
The cinema of Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki despite its deadpan imagery has always sparkled. It may not have a joie de vivre feeling, but has a soul that is magically captivating. And, yes, so addictive. But Kaurismäki's latest, a Berlin Competition title, The Other Side of Hope, goes beyond this. Here in this work, he focuses on refugees – still an uneasy subject for a movie plot and an even greater discomfort for politicians.
Kaurismäki plots his narrative with his usual candid absurdity, but this in no way undermines the humungous seriousness of the problem of millions displaced from their homes. And he takes us through the tale with disarming simplicity and unbelievable ease.
The film is basically about two men: a travelling salesman, Wikström, from Finland who quarrels with his wife and walks out of home. He decides to make a clean cut of his life by throwing away his job and taking up gambling. With the money he earns at poker, he buys a dowdy restaurant – where a Syrian refugee, Khaled, who has made his way into
Finland as a stowaway in a coal ship, is hired. He is searching for his sister, and in what seems like a wonderful camaraderie, the men at the restaurant come together to help Khaled. Set in Helsinki, Kaurismäki paints the gloom of the times all right, but lifts the movie out of the morose with a dash of hope and positiveness.