It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Journey of Hope" tells a story which is repeated tens of thousands of times every year in Europe, as poor workers from the southern countries travel north to what they hope will be better jobs with larger paychecks. The movie, which won this year's Academy Award as best foreign film, tells of a family that leaves its secure life in a hill village of Turkey, and travels by rail, ship, car, truck, and finally foot toward the mirage of a new life in Switzerland.
Because the motion picture camera has a tendency to make everything it photographs look picturesque, life in Turkey seems fairly idyllic for the family. Their small home nestles next to olive trees on a beautiful hillside, and they have a secure place in the daily life of their village. But the greater world beckons. They study a postcard from a relative, which shows snow-capped mountains and promises a paradise in Switzerland. And eventually the father, restless, ambitious, determines that they must sell everything they own to buy passage to the north.
They find people who are eager to help - other Turks who operate this cruel parody of the underground railway. They are told they must leave their children behind - to "follow" as soon as the money starts rolling in - but they take one boy, the brightest. The wife is filled with fears and misgivings. She cannot envision leaving her home and family, but her husband has a fierce light in his eye, a vision that will not be denied, and in their society it is his decision which is final.
We follow the details of the journey, every step of which is designed to part the travelers from their money - not only through tickets and bribes, but also through currency exchange scams and simple con games. Some of the most memorable moments show the travelers waiting through long nights in cold, empty train stations - strangers in a strange land. Eventually the family and others find themselves in Italy, on the slopes of the Alps, being advised to walk across in weather so dangerous the guide refuses to take them - and is punished by the criminals who run the racket.