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A Film Diary

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Aki Kaurismäki’s not covering any new ground with this latest deadpan drama, but if you like any of his earlier films then the chances are you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, too, and I’ll happily champion any work right now that is as empathetic and considerate with regard to Muslims who have desperately fled a war zone as this film is. The story revolves around a Finnish businessman who leaves his wife, wins a lot of money playing poker and then opens a restaurant, as well as a Syrian migrant from Aleppo, who arrives in Helsinki after stowing away on a boat transporting coal and finds himself on the receiving end of the Finnish man’s generosity. There’s irony and droll humour, but in all honesty I was more impressed by the film’s touching, serious, humane moments, of which there are several. I think it’s some way short of Kaurismäki’s best, but it’s pleasantly unassuming and well-meaning and there’s always room for that. (***½)