Press Notes

Critics Are Loving Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope

One of the great masters of melancholy comedy, Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, returns to theaters today with The Other Side of Hope, his first film since 2011’s Le Havre. Continuing his empathetic exploration of global migration, Kaurismäki’s latest is a clear-eyed response to the current refugee crisis, centering on Khaled (Sherwan Haji), a displaced Syrian who lands in Helsinki and, after being denied asylum, forges a friendship with a middle-aged salesman (Sakari Kuosmanen) who has abandoned his wife and job to open an unprofitable seafood restaurant. This bittersweet tale of human kindness, which opens in New York today at Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has critics raving:

  • In the New York Times, A. O. Scott compares Kaurismäki with some of the greatest craftsmen of cinema’s past: “You could list filmmakers from the past—Victor Sjöström, Frank Borzage, and Jean Vigo, for example—among Mr. Kaurismaki’s influences, but it would be more accurate to describe them as his contemporaries.”
  • In Cinema Scope, Jordan Cronk calls the film “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.”
  • “Aki Kaurismäki’s films are, you might say, joyously lugubrious,” writes Jonathan Romney for Film Comment. He goes on to note that “the director isn’t a sentimentalist, but he’s a big softie, for sure, an incorrigible optimist (although in person, he adopts the guise of a world-class Master of Misery) and an unshakeable believer in people’s mutual decency in the face of inhumanity.”
  • “For all the deadpan comedy and eccentric characterization, Kaurismäki anchors the film in Khaled’s story and his immigration anxieties, all depicted with quiet humanity that never feels exaggerated,” writes Kristen Yoonsoo Kim in the Village Voice. “It’s a beautiful companion piece to Le Havre, and a film that will gently warm your cold, cynical heart.”
  • Watch the trailer for The Other Side of Hope:

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