Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope)

Poster for Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope)

Returning with his first feature in six years since his Film Circuit arthouse favourite Le Havre, Finnish master Aki Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) delivers what can be considered the second chapter of his Port Cities Trilogy. In his distinctive anachronistic, yet tonally rich style, Kaurismäki paints the unlikely bond between a Syrian refugee and a middle-aged menswear salesman.

Khaled (newcomer Sherwan Haji) worked as a mechanic in Aleppo before fleeing in a coal ship container and accidently landing on the shores of Helsinki. He emerges from his hid­ing place covered head to toe in black dust, an alien in an unfamiliar town. Wikstrom (Sakari Kuosmanen, The Man without a Past), deeply unsatisfied with his life, leaves his prickly, alcoholic wife and offloads his remaining stock of men’s shirts to fund a career change. After taking a risk at a high-stakes poker game, Wikstrom is presented with a new breath of life that eventually connects and collides both men in an unpredictable friendship.

Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director at 2017’s Berlinale, The Other Side of Hope demonstrates the height of Kaurismäki’s auteurial form. Deftly mixing tragedy and wry humour, Kaurismäki builds a story of an unlikely community coming together under difficult circumstances. This idiosyncratic fable on the refugee crisis could not be more humane and timely.

Hope is as contemporary and vital a film as you’re likely to find in 2017, but it’s also one of the funniest and most classically (not to mention beautifully) cinematic too.” (Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage)

“It’s a deeply humane film, as well as a quietly hilarious one.” (Dave Calhoun, Time Out London)

“This is a world that reeks of cigarette smoke and cheap vodka, yet as always in the work of Finland’s maestro of droll melancholy, the perfume that lingers longest is empathy.” (David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter)