The droll, deadpan latest from Finland’s greatest director, Aki Kaurismäki (Leningrad Cowboys Go to America, Le Havre), The Other Side of Hope opens with Khaled (Sherwan Haji), a Syrian refugee, rising from under a mountain of soot. The displaced Middle Easterner quickly encounters an indifferent state and a violently antagonistic Finnish public, before fortuitously crossing paths with new restaurant owner Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen). In the meantime, the Finnish Wikström has left his wife and job to buy a hardscrabble seafood joint, which at one point he attempts to transform (very unsuccessfully, and to great comic effect) into a sushi restaurant. Winner of the Best Director prize at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, the deeply humanistic The Other Side of Hope ranks among this year’s more vital pieces of political filmmaking. It also possesses the best sense of humor of any of these films, with stomach-turning menu items bringing levity to a film that captures the contemporary creep of white European nationalism.
Director Aki Kaurismäki | 2017 | In Finnish, English, and Arabic with English subtitles | 98 minutes | NR | DCP