The Other Side of Hope
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Your attention span needs to be able to hang in there for longer than the perfunctory four minutes between sensational film moments in the case of Kaurismäki’s ‘The Other Side of Hope’. Think about eight minutes between heart beats followed by Kaurismäki’s signature dead-pan delivery of emotionally loaded dialogue. These insights are into one of our most compelling human dramas ‒ the international refugee crisis.
‘The Other Side of Hope’ follows the young Syrian Khaled (Sherwan Haji), fleeing Aleppo after his home has been demolished and his family killed “by the Syrian Government, the Russians, Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, the rebels, the Americans, who knows …” (to paraphrase). At the same time we are also following Wikstrom (Sakari Kuosmanen), a middle-age man caught in a miserable hole that involves both his job and his marriage. In fact, the only real malevolent force in the time-frame of this movie ‒ the brutality of the physical threat of the Syria situation left behind by Khaled ‒ is that of a neo-Nazi gang who wants to kick in the head of the defenceless ‘camel boy’.
‘The Other Side of Hope’ is full incidents and accidents. It deftly showcases the kindness of strangers prevailing and overwhelming the inefficiency of well-meaning but inadequate bureaucracies to provide glimmers of hope in what would otherwise appear to be insurmountable sadness.
A beautiful film, ‘The Other Side of Hope’ will be enjoyed by grown-ups who love the medium of movies and who believe in the power of humanity.