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
While there's some jarring tension between the very real and timely issue of refugees fleeing Syria (and explicitly mentioning ISIS) and Kaurismäki's stylized, atemporal stiltedness, the movie eventually finds a sort of grace in precisely that stiltedness (and in one of the worst restaurants in movie history).
It's not my favourite film from Aki Kaurismäki but you can easily recognise his distinctive style and humour with some music and old fashioned settings. I have never been to Finland but now wondering if people are really that stiff and if everything is that outdated. Does the police still use typewriters?! There is a clear divide between a more humane approach and the aggressive attitude of the far right supporters.
CINEMA _ Does Kaurismaki make always the same film ? No. First because he looks around at the world and adresses very actual topics. But also because his atmosphere is balanced with the help of music, working with "contrepoint", a light touch when it's dark, a terrible scene when you hope for the best. Sober (if you can say so) and in a simple way touching.
Critics of this film (in Finland anyway) point out that Kaurismäki is only recycling the usual elements - minimalist acting, one-liners, guitar rock scenes, the specific type of nostalgia, the underdog ethics etc. That might be true, but the film’s well-made, funny and thoughtful, the script works and he’s a cinematic craftsman if any. So, once in five years, I’m quite happy to see Kaurismäki do his thing.
„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