Writer-director Aki Kaurismäki further sharpens his craft with The Other Side of Hope, offering a timely drama whose melancholy air is leavened by its empathy.
This wry, melancholic comedy from Aki Kaurismäki, a clear-eyed response to the current refugee crisis, follows two people searching for a place to call home. Displaced Syrian Khaled (Sherwan Haji) lands in Helsinki as a stowaway; meanwhile, middle-aged salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves behind his wife and job and buys a conspicuously unprofitable seafood restaurant. After Khaled is denied asylum, he decides not to return to Aleppo--and the paths of the two men cross fortuitously. As deadpan as the best of the director's work, and with a deep well of empathy for its down-but-not-out characters (many of them played by members of Kaurismäki's ever-reliable stock company), The Other Side of Hope is a bittersweet tale of human kindness in the face of official indifference.