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The second part of Aki Kaurismäki's "Finland" trilogy, the film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or ... See full summary »
When slaughterhouse workers Endre and Mária discover they share the same dreams - where they meet in a forest as deer and fall in love - they decide to make their dreams come true but it's difficult in real life.
The married Bongwan leaves home in the dark morning and sets off to work. The memories of the woman who left weigh down on him. That day Bongwan's wife finds a love note, bursts into the office, and mistakes Areum for the woman who left.
Khaled, syrian refugee stows away on a freighter to Helsinki. Meanwhile, Wikström is a traveling salesman who wins big at a poker table and buys himself a restaurant with the proceeds. When the authorities turn down his application for asylum, Khaled is forced underground and Wikström finds him sleeping in the yard behind his restaurant. He offers him a job and a roof over his head and, for a while, they form a Utopian union with the restaurant's waitress, the chef and his dog. Written by
Prior the film's release director-producer Aki Kaurismäki and his long-time set decorator Markku Pätilä got into dispute on how the credits are listed in the Finnish titled version as all set related credits (set decorator, property master and set builder) are listed under single title "Lavastus". Kaurismäki's response for that this wording would downgrade Pätilä's role and artistic rights in the set design, Kaurismäki rejected these claims and also said Kaurismäki himself designed the detailed visual look of the film and even provided large part of the props. The response also promised that in the international version with English titles Pätilä would be the only person listed under title "set decorator". On February 1st 2017 Pätilä and his lawyers filed a case to The Market Court in Helsinki to seek injunction on film's release in Finland in its current form and the next day the court ruled that there is no need to ban the film and the issues regarding the rights on the film's set design will be determined later - assuming the parties cannot reach a settlement outside the court prior that. See more »
After 'Le Havre', this is Kaurismäki's second film about refugees. This is a hot topic, now even more than ever. Europe is still trying to digest the influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq, a process with major political consequences.
There is no doubt about Kaurismäki's moral position. The lead characters in 'The other side of hope' don't even discuss if they should help the Syrian refugee Khaled, they just do it as if there is no other choice. In perhaps Kaurismäki's most political scene ever, a police officer tells Khaled that Aleppo, the city where he came from, is not unsafe according to the Finnish immigration authority, so he should be deported back to Syria. Immediately after the verdict, Kaurismäki shows a news report on Finnish television about the atrocities going on in Aleppo.
The complete lack of emotions, a trademark feature of Kaurismäki's work, adds an extra dimension to the message. The refugee doesn't complain, his protectors don't discuss, the violent racists don't explain. Everything just happens.
Of course, this being a Kaurismäki film, there are the typical elements of his movies: the fifties aesthetics, the deadpan humor, the stripped-to-the-bone dialogue. Music is also an important element in this film. It is, without exception, source music from musicians playing in bars, café's or in the street. It is all sung in Finnish, but has a very bluesy feeling, perfectly matching the overall mood of the film.
The screenplay has a special structure: for the most part of the film, the viewer is watching two separate stories. One is about the refugee Khaled entering the country as a stowaway in a cargo ship, trying to find his way in society and being processed by the immigration authority. The other is about a business man trying to revive an unprofitable restaurant. Of course, the two are destined to run into each other.
Kaurismäki is one of those film makers whose style is unique and doesn't resemble anything else. For that reason alone, his work is worth watching. In this film, he adds a political message which is as urgent as can be.
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