In his latest deadpan tour-de-force, celebrated Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre) delivers a humorous and heartbreaking fictional look at the 21st century migrant crisis, told through the evolving relationship between an appealingly odd couple in modern-day Helsinki.
“A deeply humane film, as well as a quietly hilarious one.” – Dave Calhoun, Time Out
Having escaped bombed-out Aleppo, Syrian refugee Khlaed (Sherwan Haji) seeks asylum in Finland, only to get lost in a maze of functionaries and bureaucracies. Meanwhile, cantankerous huckster and shirt salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves his wife, wins big in a poker game, and takes over a restaurant whose oddball staff he also inherits. As Wikström haphazardly attempts to get his new restaurant off the ground, he forms a wry kinship with the self-effacing Khlaed. The two men’s parallel stories dovetail to gently comic and enormously moving effect in Kaurismäki’s politically urgent fable, an object lesson on the value of compassion and hope that remains grounded in a tangible social reality. (Dir. by Aki Kaurismäki, Finland/Germany, in Finnish/English/Arabic/Swedish with English subtitles, 100 mins., Not Rated)