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Sunday, January 21, 1:30pm
Rainbow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg

Other Side of HopeFinland’s master of deadpan comedy, Aki Kaurismäki returns with the story of an unlikely friendship between a Syrian asylum seeker and an elderly 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. With hilarious sight gags, poker-faced one liners and a toe-tapping rockabilly soundtrack, Kaurismäki’s latest balances his unparalleled wit with a pressing critique of the unforgiving bureaucracy that greets vulnerable asylum seekers in modern-day Europe. Humane and sincere, it's proof of cinema's power to tell stories that matter, with beauty and heart.

Leads: Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen, Janne Hyytiäinen, Ilkka Koivula, Nuppu Koivu, Simon Al-Bazoon
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Genre: Black Comedy  Languages: Finnish, English, Arabic
Run Time: 100 minutes  Rating: PG

Review

By Derek Winnert

The great Aki Kaurismäki is back on inspired form with a typical black comedy drama, in a story that offers him the best chance to do all the things he has being doing for three decades.

other side of hope2 450It’s an oddball, hauntingly weird tale of a Syrian refugee Khaled (Sherwan Haji) who finds his way to Finland to start a new life and the older Finnish poker-playing restaurateur Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) who opens a small restaurant in Helsinki and employs and befriends him. The refugee tries to start a new life proper in Finland, but the surprisingly heartless state wants to send him back and he escapes into the big heartless city to try to survive as an illegal alien.

Hardships are met, cultures clash, people collide, but, with plenty of oddball humour, there seems some hope, yet here we are on The Other Side of Hope. That is probably not good then, as it doesn’t sound as though it is going to end well. Kaurismäki deals in metaphors, finds relevance, laughs and truths, and turns in a great-looking movie.

other side of hopeWriter-producer-director Kaurismäki designed the detailed visual look of the film and provided a large part of the props. Using film instead of digital, Timo Salminen’s cinematography makes excellent use of framing and colours.

This is a heck of a fine film on many levels, one of Aki’s best. It’s a story about somebody and something, and knows where it is going and what it is doing, no rambling, no messing. It creeps up on you and works up to a devastating conclusion, delivering a punch to the gut, horrible but desperately satisfying.

Life’s a bitch, a black comedy, then you die, says Aki. He makes Finland seem bleak but somehow still fun. Maybe he wants to make you see Finnish films rather than go to Finland, though.

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