Friday, December 1, 2017
At once honest and artful, a touching and clearsighted declaration of faith in people and in movies.
As contemporary and vital a film as you’re likely to find in 2017.
One of the Finnish veteran’s most impressive balancing acts, a tragicomedy that feels urgent and yet manages to never lose sight of life’s inherent ironies.
Leave it to Aki Kaurismäki (Le Havre, NYFF 2011), peerless master of humanist tragicomedy, to make the first great fiction film about the 21st century migrant crisis. 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, shirt salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves his wife, wins big in a poker game, and takes over a restaurant whose deadpan staff he also inherits. These 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. A Janus Films release.