Entertainment » Movies

The Other Side Of Hope

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Dec 1, 2017
'The Other Side of Hope'
'The Other Side of Hope'  

It's been a long six years since he directed his last movie, but the wait was well worth it: Aki Kaurismäki has  just released "The Other Side of Hope," another truly wonderful piece of escapism that is peppered with a more-than-the-usual dose of realism.

The Finnish auteur is the master of abstract deadpan humor. At first glance, it looks like he has set this new movie in drab-looking Finland in the 1990s, where time has stood still.

It's the story of two different worlds in collision. Khaled Ali (Sherwan Haji), a Syrian refugee who has escaped the violence of Aleppo and stowed himself away on a coal freighter, is trying to find safety in Helsinki. He goes to the authorities to claim asylum, and even though they go through the pretense of studying his case they still order him to be deported and face the very real possibility of being killed.

Meanwhile Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a traveling salesman, is having a very late midlife crisis. He leaves his alcoholic wife, sells off all his stock of merchandise, and uses the cash for a night of very high-stakes poker where he wins a small fortune.  He uses that to buy a failing restaurant called The Golden Pint, where the cook serves sardines still in the can.

When Ali escapes from the detention center to avoid being sent back home he ends up on the restaurant door step. Wikström takes him in, giving him a job and a storage closet to live in. The sad-faced Wikström claims to have no friends, but under his gruff exterior there is more than a hint of compassion. Not only is he prepared to give payouts to the three very oddball staff he has inherited, but he goes out of his way to obtain a false ID card for Ali, and also comes to the refugee's aid after he has been beaten up by racist thugs.

There are some superb scenes of humor in this film, particularly when Wikström is encouraged by his small staff to reinvent the failing restaurant by converting it overnight into a sushi restaurant or a dance bar -- but  still keeping the obscure decor, with the solitary picture of Jimi Hendrix. At another point -- one of the movie's funniest moments -- the operator producing a fake ID asks Khaled, "Male or female?" The refugee looks blank and replies, "I don't understand humor."

Kaurismäki's bizarre outlook on life is nothing less than a sheer joy, and although it is often described as an "acquired taste," it really has a much wider appeal than that and deserves to find the audience it deserves.

The Other Side of Hope

Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab's classified secret -- a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent and a marine biologist.

Info

Runtime :: 98 mins
Release Date :: Jan 25, 2017
Language :: Silent
Country :: Finland

Cast

Khaled :: Sherwan Haji
Wikström :: Sakari Kuosmanen
Nyrhinen :: Janne Hyytiäinen
Calamnius :: Ilkka Koivula
Mirja :: Nuppu Koivu
Mazdak :: Simon Al-Bazoon
Miriam :: Niroz Haji
Wikströmin vaimo :: Kaija Pakarinen
Melartin :: Tommi Korpela
Vaatekaupan omistaja :: Kati Outinen

Crew

Director :: Aki Kaurismäki
Screenwriter :: Aki Kaurismäki
Producer :: Aki Kaurismäki
Cinematographer :: Timo Salminen
Film Editor :: Samu Heikkilä
Costume Designer :: Tiina Kaukanen


Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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