Film Review: The Other Side of Hope

Delivered through the use of deadpan humour and a desaturated colour palate or greys, blacks and whites, Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope is a hilarious look at two men. Khaled, (Sherwan Haji) is a young Syrian refugee who seeks asylum in Finland and Wikstrom (Sakari Kuosmanen) is a salesman turned restaurant owner whose unprofitable restaurant purchase leads to the two men meeting in what would otherwise be quite a bleak picture of Europe’s treatment of refugees and their assumption that refugees pose a threat to their way of life.

Unfortunately, the reality is that this comedic licence expressed by Kaurismäki is hauntingly close to the truth on the government’s treatment of refugees as seen in many first world countries, including the European refugee crisis of 2015 and news a bit closer to home with Australia’s treatment of refugees in recent years.

Exploitation seems like the premise of the film, with both Khaled unable to be granted asylum in Finland despite his strong case and the staff of Wikstrom’s restaurant being taken advantage of by the previous owner who leaves quickly for the airport after selling his failing business. There are, however, hilarious moments in the film, including the changing of the restaurant name from ‘The Golden Pint’ to a series of names in order to appeal to the incoming cultural clientele that cheekily plays on cultural stereotypes and generalises race preference in the pursuit of profit.

The absurdity of The Other Side of Hope includes the sudden introduction to musical performances, which help to provide a lightness to the otherwise bleak film, acting as symbol of hope in a quirky deadpan delivery of what is a sad reality.

The Other Side of Hope plays again at Sydney Film Festival on Sunday 18th June. Details here.

See the full Sydney Film Festival programme and find out more here:



Photos and review by Addy Fong.