Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Other Side of Hope

The war in Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis have been such a big thing for Europe in recent years that it's not really a surprise that it's the inspiration for a film. It's a little surprising that it's set in Finland, but I guess that just illustrates the point that nowhere in Europe was or is unaffected.

The Other Side of Hope has two main characters and initially they're part of separate narratives. Eventually their paths cross, though that took rather longer than it should have - long enough for me to wonder if was ever going to happen.

Character A is Khaled, a Syrian mechanic who arrives on a coal ship, having stowed away from Poland. He goes through official channels and applies for asylum, and is housed temporarily in a refugee centre. When his application for asylum is declined, he absconds.

Character B is Wikstrom, a travelling clothing salesman who gets disenchanted with his lot, sells his stock, uses the proceeds to win big in a local poker syndicate and buys a small restaurant with the proceeds.

Khaled and Wikstrom meet up when Wikstrom discovers Khaled sleeping rough beside the restaurant's dumpster, and employs him to solve the problem of what to do about him.

So as an examination of the treatment of refugees and an examination of the oddities of the Finnish character, the Other Side of Hope is a perfectly pleasant watch but not a must-see. There are some funny bits but mostly it's droll and deadpan rather than funny. There is visually humourous content - for example the policeman  typing Khaled's application for asylum on a typewriter - as if it's 1965 not 2015. And the staff at the restaurant wouldn't be out of place at Wes Craven's The Grand Budapest Hotel. The trailer promises "torrents of laughter" and that it's "screamingly funny" and I don't agree, so I was disappointed. I'm not inspired to go to Finland either.

Anne's rating 2.5/5

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