Disappointing picture by Aki Kaurismäki lacks a compelling plot and has few laughs.
The Other Side of Hope is the long awaited film of the outstanding Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. His most successful films such as The Match Factory Girl and The Man Without a Past with their distinctive minimalist style and acerbic jokes made him a reputation of one of the most important arthouse directors. The Other Side of Hope tells the story of a Syrian refugee and the challenges he meets in Finland. The film features his typical cinematographic style but the picture itself is disappointing.
It is clear that Kaurismäki is much more at ease describing Finns. His Finnish characters are very funny and colorful, however when it comes to the refugees, he becomes shy and unimaginative. The protagonist Khaled is probably a very good person but he is a very boring character. More than that he does not look like a refugee; he looks neither tired, hungry or frustrated. He reminds a successful salesman or a post-doctorate student. His story is not compelling and his acting is not convincing. Kaurismäki received a specific commission and when making this politically correct movie he was afraid of making fun of foreigners or their religion. He even made Khaled an atheist which is highly unlikely for people from this country.
Occasionally the film was funny, but only in the segments featuring Finns. The plot is not very interesting and does not have any twists or surprises. When undertaking this theme, Kaurismäki has shown that he does not know the topic or perhaps he does not want to know it. Perhaps the biggest motivating factor for making this film was the funding he received in order to produce this extremely politically correct picture. Kaurismäki has shown himself as a non-conformist with his previous films, however The Other Side of Hope is just another propagandist film. It is quite disappointing because art-house genre supposed to feature independent point of view. Film was premiered at Berlinale, highly politically motivated film festival. At the Berlinale award ceremony Kaurismäki received the Silver Bear for Best Director. He looked highly inebriated and did not even go to the stage to say thank you. It looks like the film director is frustrated, because he understands that The Other SIde of Hope is a failure.