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

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.