Syrian Khaled emerges from underneath a mountain of coal on a boat that brought him to Finland as if reborn. He requests asylum in Helsinki and waits for status to be granted. Elsewhere in the city, Wikström – an aging sales rep – decides to radically change his life. He leaves his wife, earns a fortune playing poker and uses the money to buy an old-school restaurant – complete with staff. When Khaled’s asylum application is rejected, he decides to remain in Finland illegally. Because, in spite of the uneven experience, the Syrian has fallen for the place, hook, line and sinker. When both gentlemen accidentally meet, they prove to suit each other’s lives miraculously well.
Kaurismäki gives his own unique twist to the refugee crisis, creating a dryly humorous, absurdist world in which everyday cruelty is supplanted by humanity. The Finnish master has once again created a minimalist, retro universe without smartphones, but with ashtrays, foamless beer and guitar-strumming musicians.