Le Havre

"Very Good"

Le Havre Review


Finnish filmmaker Kaurismaki heads to France for this marvellously askance comedy-drama, for which he again uses a genre style with only a tentative connection. Although shot like a 1940s spy movie, the story's actually about present-day class issues.

Marcel (Wilms) is an ageing shoe-shiner in the port city Le Havre, getting no respect from anyone. After his doting wife Arletty (Outinen) ends up in hospital for cancer treatment, Marcel encounters young refugee Idrissa (Miguel), who has escaped from Gabon on his way to meet his mother in London.

While hiding Idrissa from a nosey cop (Darrousin) and a meddling neighbour (Leaud), Marcel gets help from his friends (Salo, Didi, Monnie and Nguyen) and his faithful dog Laika.

Despite the rather serious subject matter, the film has a whimsical quality that feels rather surreal, especially as events play out in the final act. But the plot isn't the point: this is a story about how people from different backgrounds interact in often surprising ways. Despite his loser-like status, everyone knows that Marcel is a good guy. He doesn't see race or nationality as issues, so helping Idrissa comes naturally to him, even if it means breaking the law.

As usual, Kaurismaki uses with vividly colourful sets, characters, camerawork and music that feel like a period film. But the story is hugely current, looking at immigration in Europe from a variety of angles while pitting human compassion against officious border controls and deep-seated prejudice. We never understand why Leaud's neighbour is so tenaciously determined to have Idrissa deported, but we do understand the cop's reluctance to do so. So as we root for Marcel, we hope he'll get some good news from the doctor as a kind of karmic payback.

The film is also extremely mannered, filling the screen with random characters and hilariously strange moments (it opens with an abrupt shooting that's never referred to again). The acting style is deadpan and often monotone; indeed, Laika is the most expressive performer. And no one seems particularly surprised by the twists and turns of fate that come along, taking things in stride, good with bad, while doing the best they can to help each other and perhaps make the world a bit better in the process.



Le Havre

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 8th September 2011

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Budget: $3.9M

Distributed by: Janus Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 83 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Aki Kaurismaki

Producer: Aki Kaurismaki

Starring: André Wilms as Marcel Marx, as Arletty, Blondin Miguel as Idrissa, Elina Salo as Claire, Evelyne Didi as Yvette, Quoc Dung Nguyen as Chang, as Monet, Jean-Pierre Léaud as Le dénonciateur, Pierre Étaix as Docteur Becker

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.