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The Other Side of Hope


Year: 2017 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki 
Starring: Ville Virtanen, Kati Outinen, Tommi Korpela  
An image from The Other Side of Hope

Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki stuns again with his new gem The Other Side of Hope, his second feature-length film dealing with the current refugee crisis after Le Havre.

The film follows two main stories, which eventually collide and merge as the plot unravels: that of Khaled, a young Syrian refugee from Aleppo running away from war and attempting to find his sister he lost on his unintentional journey to Finland, and Wikström’s, an old, bitter salesman from Helsinki turned restaurant owner after leaving his wife.

Kaurismäki’s approach to the refugee crisis is peculiar: nothing particularly striking happens in the film, but we are rather shown the slow and unexciting daily, incredibly human, lives of the two male protagonists. Every sequence is characterised by a general sense of absurdity and surrealism, from the opening scene with Khaled emerging from a pile of coal, to Wikström’s employees recurring expressionless service. Silent compassion is the key to the understanding of the film: Wikström’s passive and detached mannerism subtly emphasize his benevolence, which he uncovers as he helps Khaled to survive in a country that actively denies the tragedy of his situation. No words are ever wasted: almost every conversation is assembled using short, witty, snappy lines, which ensure that a comedic undertone is maintained from start to end.

With The Other Side of Hope, Kaurismäki took up the arduous task of portraying the contemporary issue of the refugee crisis without glossing it over with Hollywoodian sentimentalism and sensationalism. Needless to say, he succeeded in his intents.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2017/2018 Autumn Term (35mm)