The second part of Aki Kaurismäki's "Finland" trilogy, the film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or ... See full summary »
Khaled, syrian refugee stows away on a freighter to Helsinki. Meanwhile, Wikström is a traveling salesman who wins big at a poker table and buys himself a restaurant with the proceeds. When the authorities turn down his application for asylum, Khaled is forced underground and Wikström finds him sleeping in the yard behind his restaurant. He offers him a job and a roof over his head and, for a while, they form a Utopian union with the restaurant's waitress, the chef and his dog.Written by
Prior the film's release director-producer Aki Kaurismäki and his long-time set decorator Markku Pätilä got into dispute on how the credits are listed in the Finnish titled version as all set related credits (set decorator, property master and set builder) are listed under single title "Lavastus". Kaurismäki's response for that this wording would downgrade Pätilä's role and artistic rights in the set design, Kaurismäki rejected these claims and also said Kaurismäki himself designed the detailed visual look of the film and even provided large part of the props. The response also promised that in the international version with English titles Pätilä would be the only person listed under title "set decorator". On February 1st 2017 Pätilä and his lawyers filed a case to The Market Court in Helsinki to seek injunction on film's release in Finland in its current form and the next day the court ruled that there is no need to ban the film and the issues regarding the rights on the film's set design will be determined later - assuming the parties cannot reach a settlement outside the court prior that. See more »
The Other Side of Hope is a Kaurismaki classic, full of bittersweet sarcasm and existentialism, if by the latter we mean an honest reflection of what is. It also contains some great music, although I sometimes think that it is how he lets music exist in his films that makes it great, rather than the music per se.
By centering his story around a Syrian refugee in Helsinki, the film brings forward the view of the migrant/refugee, and that is very important,because we do not only see the European view of the Other; Kaurismaki enters the Other's reality in modern fortress-Europe. It helps us think what it really means to be a young man/woman stuck in these postmodern concentration camps, waiting for some bureaucratic agency to review your asylum application and define, from some thousand miles away, whether the hell that you fled from can be officially called "war" or whatever. Or what it means to carry this burden and walk in the same streets with the "true Finns" or other nationalistic, xenophobic scums. It also depicts the power of solidarity, albeit in Kaurismaki's typically sarcastic manner.
Anyhow, Kaurismaki always seems to take a certain distance from the things he narrates (some call him a snobbish filmmaker, others may claim that he makes a caricature of his characters), but his magic lies on the fact that it is precisely this distance (plus tons of alcohol, apparently) that makes his films so honest and humane. There is always a certain absurdity in play, yet to me Kaurismaki does realism in the most accurate meaning of the word. You exit the cinema and you see (and hear) this absurd realism applied all over the city. This film is no exception. It may not be his "magnum opus", but his kind of artists doesn't need this bourgeois terminology at all. It is what you make of it.
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