Finnish living legend Aki Kaurismaki (Leningrad Cowboys, Le Havre, The Man Without a Past, etc)’s unique style is in display again in The Other Side of Hope, and still on a surprisingly shoe string budget for such a major contemporary director. He fully demonstrates that when creativity is part of your DNA you don’t need 50 million dollars. Back are the loony situations wonderfully enhanced by Kaurismaki’s regular, Sakari Kuosmanen, supported by a strong ensemble cast that seem at times to have been hypnotized. But that is part of the director’s signature. Wacky dialogues are complementary to picturesque situations that might as well be from a silent film.
As we follow the story of refugees and outcasts evolving around the restaurant of a local entrepreneur, issues about immigration, Rock n Roll, love, life and death are introduced with a light touch into his always simple but beautiful framing. As always with Kaurismaki, odd choices (his assumed colorful kitsh Art direction is all there) and while we don’t know if we should cry or laugh, he moves us and we leave the cinema pretty much with a feeling of strange happiness. It should not work, but it does because he is a brilliant filmmaker.
This work of love is like candy. Best left to melt in the mouth.