The Other Side of Hope (Toivon Tuolla Puolen) ⭐⭐⭐

Indie director Aki Kaurismaki draws a subtle but distinct analogy in his latest film between a Finnish man giving up his wife and business for his dream to open a restaurant and a Syrian refugee who is literally bombed out of Aleppo and seeking asylum in Finland. If you are familiar with the Finnish writer-director’s previous work, then you know exactly what you are getting: deliberate pacing, minimalistic directing and a bone dry sense of humour, rockabilly music interludes played live in the background and unaffecting, almost stilted acting, that’s as cold as the salted herring they serve in the film. This is niche interest/acquired taste film-making and if you like his work, then you will love this. For others (like me) I do not consider missing this a big deal but having seen it, I do appreciate the very empathetic way he handles the timely social subject matter of the refugee crisis in his own inmitable style and there is an understating charm and thoughtfulness here to be savored. The typically enigmatic European ending that straddles hopefulness and tragedy could be a point of contention but it is almost expected for an arthouse film such as this even though I still find it abrupt and not entirely satisfying. So you can put back that ⭐I deducted from my rating if you are a fan of that or of Kaurismaki.


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