The Other Side of Hope Screen 90 of 24 reviews

The Other Side of Hope

2017

The Other Side of Hope Poster
  • It's the only recent film I know that merits comparison with the work of Charlie Chaplin. Like Chaplin, Kaurismäki blends humor and pathos in his look at a down-and-out individual by using the character's misadventures to illuminate the plight of many others like him. . . . The effect is similar to what Chaplin achieved with The Great Dictator: the movie draws attention to a pressing global issue while functioning as crowd-pleasing entertainment.

  • Though the 35mm cinematography suits the tactile romanticism of jukeboxes and cigarette smoke, it doesn’t create a hermetic universe of pacifying nostalgia; deep colors dissolve into the melancholy chiaroscuro and dull grays of Helsinki. As Kaurismäki peppers the film with performances from his favorite Finnish blues musicians, he externalizes anguish without laying it on thick—time and again, his empathetic minimalism keeps his tonal preferences from calcifying into a rigidity of vision.

  • The movie expands upon Kaurismäki’s central mode of observation and delivers some trenchant, upsetting truths about the immigration experience from the side of those seeking asylum. . . . Kaurismäki makes these bigots look ridiculous, but he also takes very seriously the damage they do, and the movie’s finale takes that into account. Its suggestive title lingers at the end, leaving a question mark that the viewer will have to turn over personally, and that’s a good thing.

  • Hilarious hijinks ensue (deploying, in classic Kaurismäki style, dogs, stinging one-liners, and rockabilly tunes), but the director’s political critique is manifest in every frame. An uproarious setpiece involving the half-baked makeover of Wikström’s restaurant into a sushi joint doubles as a send-up of Europe’s willingness to fetishistically consume, but not embody, multiculturalism.

  • If Kaurismäki's latest film does not feel like his freshest and most original, it still stands as one of the very few, if not the best film made on this subject. Without giving any political or historical context, The Other Side of Hope lucidly exposes the absurdity of a humanitarian catastrophe systematically treated in the press and by politiciansas some sort of natural disaster.

  • As splashes of violence are interspersed with an unexpected pratfall or odd visual gag—unable to sustain itself, The Golden Pint rebrands as a sushi restaurant; wasabi-related hijinks ensue—The Other Side of Hope proves to be one of the Finnish veteran’s most impressive balancing acts, a tragicomedy that feels urgent and yet manages to never lose sight of life’s inherent ironies.

  • Aside from its trenchant political underpinnings, this is also a gorgeous ode to the power of cinema itself, with various pronounced nods to Jacques Tati, Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, silent comedy, 1940s noir and all manner of cinephile flotsam and jetsam.

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Tony Rayns
    April 28, 2017 | June 2017 Issue (p. 74)

    The tale is told in Kaurismäki's patented deadpan style, with grungy retro settings, incongruous compositions, a generous sampling of Finnish rockabilly performances and so on. In this world a large, spiky cactus represents the end of a marriage, and a crummy diner is rebranded overnight as a sushi bar and a curry house. But the best gag, as Kaurismäki told Michael Brooke in these pages five years ago, is the notion that any refugee would choose Finland as his new home.

  • Moving, funny, a delight to look at, and marked by some of the best timing in the biz, Kaurismäki’s latest might also speak more profoundly about the Syrian crisis and its intercontinental reverberations than a straight-on documentary ever could; but more incontrovertibly, it functions as a user’s manual for how to have a little heart.

  • With his archetypal deadpan humour and unruffled filmmaking style, Kaurismäki infuses his film with nostalgia for a lost past – a trait accentuated by the fact that The Other Side of Hope was both shot and (uniquely in the Competition) projected on 35mm celluloid. More importantly, the film gives us Kaurismäki’s vision of what a compassionate response to the humanitarian crisis taking place on Europe’s borders should be.

  • There is no heart-on-the-sleeve sentimentality, no appeals to righteousness, no moral outrage. Simply a show of decency, compassion, rectitude. The capacity of the individual to act in the face of adversity. Simple lines in simple colors: The law is insignificant. The individual matters. The act matters. Compassion matters. Not as a passive feeling, but as an active deed. And an example to be followed.

  • Yes, the film shows us detention centres, bureaucratic absurdity, racist louts and so on, but it does so with the writer-director’s customary deadpan humour, affectionate anachronisms, exquisite blue hues and a narrative simplicity that almost verges on the naive. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t fundamental truths expressed in what is a truly lovely film; merely that it is a kind of fable, a guardedly optimistic, faintly utopian response to contemporary ills.

  • The elaborate visual gags. The sharply ironic one-liners. The astutely poised compositions. The willfully undemonstrative acting. Those have been the familiar signposts of Aki Kaurismäki's style since the Finnish auteur burst onto the world-cinema scene in the 1980s. And if his latest, The Other Side of Hope, feels as fresh as it does, it's because of the memorable set pieces, gags, and grace notes that spring forth from within the confines of a familiar aesthetic template.

  • It was a pretty safe bet that Aki Kaurismäki’s new film would be a stand-out. The high expectations were surpassed: this may very well be the great Finn’s best outing since his 1996 masterpiece Drifting Clouds... The proceedings are characteristically droll but the acute poignancy of the finale is unprecedented, leaving us with a straightforward yet urgent entreaty: as difficult and futile as hope may seem in the face of the present, it must be maintained at all costs.

  • Helsinki is a more soothing, almost nurturing place than ever before [in Kaurismäki's films], with various musicians breaking up the story with blues and tango ballads. The gags roll out at a faster rate than usual. It all adds up to a gently loving fable with a straightforward political message that home can be wherever you find it. Aki Kaurismäki is nowadays a wry sentimentalist who seems to believe that, if hope may not spring eternal, it can gush brown out of rusty taps.

  • The scenes at Wikström’s restaurant feature some of the filmmaker’s hackiest humor, including an over-extended sequence in which the new owner of the Gold Pint attempts to unsuccessfully reinvent it as a sushi joint. But the poignant portions that focus on Khaled—as he turns himself into the authorities, makes friends at a refugee barracks, and tries to find his lost sister, Miriam (Niroz Haji)—contain some of his purest filmmaking.

  • The film has that look, of course, that tells you couldn’t be watching a work by anyone else. That distinctive shade of blue makes its appearance in a shot in the restaurant at night when a slash of light from outside dissects the back wall; Kaurismäki, Salminen, and production designer Markkü Pätilä, also a mainstay, have between them created an Scandinavian counterpart to Edward Hopper’s night scenes. Every shot . . . has the flat diagrammatic composition that’s a Kaurismäki trademark.

  • The calm and plain style of the director, Aki Kaurismäki, is well suited to the step-by-step observation of the immigration system’s oppressively officious approach to Khaled and his fellow-applicants . . . Meanwhile, the ubiquitous presence of violent neo-Nazis tempers the good feelings. Running gags about oddball twists in the restaurant business serve little purpose but don’t detract from the movie’s essential quasi-documentary power.

  • The film gets by on the simple pleasures unique to Kaurismäki’s oeuvre — it’s always something to look at, and the one-liners and sight gags generally land — all the while carrying the worrying suggestion that this cantankerous joker is softening into something like the Bono of droll art cinema

  • For a filmmaker with a well-established style to apply his or her formal template to Syrian immigration might seem opportunistic, but there's nothing disingenuous about The Other Side of Hope. That's because the Kaurismäki style is indelibly stamped with a globalist humanism that regards such values as respect, loyalty, and kindness as intrinsic to our biological makeup.

  • The film was embraced as classic Kaurismäki in its droll humour, laconically smoking underdogs and visual nostalgia of time-forgotten bars and cars (he’s said in the past he’ll only film vehicles made before 1962 because modern cars are “ugly and have no personality”). His characteristic warm humanism is also there in spades.

  • Hilarity ensues. So, too, do a few pauses for Kaurismäki’s beloved rock ‘n’ roll and a bit of gang violence handled so clumsily you can’t help but wonder if the amateurishness of these sequences is intentional... The bottom line, though, is the solidarity of another one of Kaurismäki’s ad hoc communities of what Khaled calls “good people.” The Other Side of Hope is a little too spotty to go down as one of his best, but it’s the Kaurismäki movie we need now.

  • It may be true that his new film has a thinner plot which resorts a bit too often to arbitrary solutions, but the simple, natural decency of his characters remains untouched and so are the deadpan expressions hiding a gentle kindness.

  • If Le Havre worked as a peculiar sort of fairy tale, one which has its roots planted firmly in the contexts of ongoing social conversations on immigration and sovereignty, The Other Side of Hope fulfills the vague sense of its aspirational title as a film limited in scope and led only by the guidance of its maker's skeptical positivity.

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