The Other Side Of Hope
Release date: 27 June 2017
Director: Aki Kaurismäki. Starring: Sakari Kuosmanen, Sherwan Haji. Finland/Germany 2017. 100 mins. Finnish/Swedish/Arabic with English subtitles.Contains moderate violence, racist behaviour
Acclaimed writer-director Aki Kaurismäki’s poignant follow-up to Le Havre sensitively weaves together the struggles of two men who flee their homes, albeit in very different circumstances. The first is Khaled (Haji), a Syrian refugee separated from his family, who arrives in Helsinki hidden as a stowaway on a coal freighter. After his transfer to a bleak, impersonal holding centre, the details of his tragic story come to light. Meanwhile, a parallel, equally desperate tale unfolds courtesy of spiky salesman Waldemar Wikström (Kuosmanen), who leaves his drunken wife and quite literally gambles everything on financing a failing restaurant. Typically of Kaurismäki, there’s much dark humour as Wikström and Khaled’s paths cross, yet antagonism eventually yields to sympathy, spawning a surrogate family unit that touchingly fills in for absent kin.