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.
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**1/2. There are good and bad people everywhere. Now how to make a good movie with this universal truth? I really don't know. Here, Kaurismaki describes good people helping a refugee without waiting for a thank-you as if it were normal to do so. In fact, until recently, refugees were sacred hosts in Europe and they were under the Greek God Zeus's protection. Times change. Almost already forgotten.
Starting in the late eighties one used to wait for the annual Kaurismaki with its wonderful deadpan mix of despair, hope and humour on the festival circuit. Though his films come out much less frequently now that mix is evident and more socially aware and topical then ever before. His latest slice of misery is a welcome addition to his filmography; ever poignant, unapologetically humorous and always empathetic.
Can whimsy and social urgency mix? In principle, I see no reason why a topical issue can't be aesthicized—that is, if done properly. Kaurismaki's deadpan style and mannered colors are often a bit too arch for the material. But as it closes, this is an uplifting comedy, borne from the idea that people can survive, locals aren't any more law-abiding than immigrants, and maybe the system will get its shit together.
Digital. From one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers, a film that revolves in its usual methods without extracting an interest beyond the known factors - his extraordinary way of framing and staging actors. Here with too much music and less concentration. In any case, a film distinguishable from a major indistinct mass, which is what mainly composes contemporary cinema, premieres and festivals.
There are few things as close to a sure thing in modern cinema as is Kaurismäki. I have seen a very large helping of his many films and never once been disappointed. This is a deadpan cinema as rife w/ pathos as it is hilarity. It is methodical and formally exquisite. HOPE, like LE HAVRE before it, stands out in the oeuvre because of a timely concern w/ migrants and refugees. Powerful stuff, casually profound.
Kaurismaki's style and tone haven't really changed for decades now, but in recent years he's been pushing his deadpan-slider away from the downbeat and over toward uplift, finally depositing us here on The Other Side of Hope. And if it seems that things have gotten a little too neat, a little bit trite, and a trifle, even, self-satisfied, well, we're still watching a Kaurismaki, so they're also kooky, funny and fine.
Curiously odd. From the stilted deadpan delivery, theatrical lighting, deliberate staging and a large does of great folk music. It's easy to feel empathy for these characters, all seemingly victims of a bigger world than they struggle to comprehend. A good comment on change, adaptation, optimism and how things can shift in an instant and the ludicrous nature of an official piece of paper. 3.5 stars
„Jean Renoir said, with ”Grande Illusion”, that he tried to stop the second World War. A letter said ”it was a lousy failure, I couldn`t stop it. Cinema doesn`t have such influence, but my honest try in this is to force the three people who go to see this film that we are all the same, we are all human. And tomorrow it will be you who will be a refugee. Today, it`s him. Or her.” - Kaurismaki at the press conference