New York Film Festival 55 Review: ‘The Other Side of Hope’ is subtle, quirky & timely

Finland’s master of deadpan comedy, Aki Kaurismäki (‘Lights in the Dusk’, ‘Le Havre’), returns with the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and a middle-aged Finnish restaurant owner. Winner of the Berlin Silver Bear for Best Director, it’s a beautiful, timely film from one of the world’s leading auteurs. Khaled (Sherwan Haji) arrives at the port of Helsinki concealed in a coal container, fleeing war-torn Syria to seek asylum in Finland. Dazed and frustrated by the monolithic administration he encounters at the detention centre, he makes a break for it and heads out onto the streets. There he meets Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a former shirt salesman who has recently left his alcoholic wife for a new life as a bachelor restaurateur. Together, they help each other to navigate the adversities they face in these unfamiliar and often baffling new worlds. Stream The Other Side of Hope on Volta now:

Sometimes with so much in the news about refugees and asylum seekers, it becomes hard to put a face to the issue. Director Aki Kaurismäki brings the issue humanity and humor in The Other Side of Hope.  This truly deadpan comedy focuses on Khaled, who fled Syria because of the war and is now desperate to find his sister. Add to that Wikström, a man who just left his alcoholic wife and bought a restaurant, with no experience. Wikström does not set out to help Khaled, it sort of just happens.

Aside from the story, the film is beautifully shot, and although set in our time, has the look of a 70s film. Many shots are zoomed out to show all the action and the absurd movements of the characters. It’s a delight to just visually follow what’s happening.

I also enjoyed the soundtrack immensely. The song from the trailer (at 0:37) is so fantastic and you’ll find yourself wanted to listen to it again.

To be totally honest, it doesn’t move very fast, but this is one of those films that you can turn on at any point, watch a scene and be totally satisfied. If you’ll watch a home, it’ll likely be a little rough to watch all at once, but really worth seeing.

How to watch: check out their website

Berlin International Film Festival 2017 – Winner: Best Director
Telluride Film Festival 2017
Toronto International Film Festival 2017
New York Film Festival 2017

Below are some clips for you to enjoy.


About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa - Managing Editor / Podcast Producer - Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed. Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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