The Other Side of Hope

Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki delivers his timeliest and most heartfelt film, mixing humor, pathos, and anger in a manner reminiscent of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940). A Syrian refugee, having lost most of his family and friends to sectarian violence, arrives in Helsinki to begin a new life; after the authorities declare that Syria is no longer a crisis zone and order him to return, he finds work and shelter at a run-down restaurant, where he ingratiates himself with the ragtag employees. Kaurismäki offers plenty of his deadpan humor in the restaurant scenes, but the comedy never distracts one from the hero’s plight, or from the failure of European nations to provide enough help for the exiled. In English and subtitled Finnish and Arabic.